House Democrats today introduced their own plan to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA), the sweeping law governing federal financial aid and other programs that support higher education in the United States.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) joined Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and other Democrats in the rollout of the plan–dubbed the Aim Higher Act. The bill, which is almost certain to go nowhere in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, comes as Republican HEA reauthorization legislation, the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act (H.R. 4508), has stalled.
The Aim Higher Act would be significantly more generous than current programs for students and borrowers, increasing funding levels for Pell Grants, TRIO, and GEAR UP and making loans more affordable. The bill would also revive the Perkins Loan Program, which expired last year, and restructure the Federal Work-Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant programs. However, the bill would also add significant new requirements for institutions, increasing reporting and regulatory burden.
Full text of the bill will be made available later this week, though information about the bill can be found here. ACE released the following statement in response to the proposal:
“The Aim Higher legislation introduced today offers several proposals that have the strong support of the higher education community. Strengthening Pell Grants is a critical step in ensuring access to college for all qualified students, and proposals to make student loans more affordable and expand other federal aid programs are welcome steps in HEA reauthorization. As with any complex piece of legislation, we have questions and concerns about a number of provisions, particularly the significant increase in regulatory burden. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.”