Last week, the Senate HELP Committee unveiled a discussion draft to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). The committee has made available a two-page summary of the 785-page draft legislation. Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) is inviting interested stakeholders to submit comments about the draft bill to the committee by Friday, August 29, using the following email address: HEAA2014@help.senate.gov.
Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) also recently released a proposal for the HEA bill to simplify the process of applying for and receiving financial aid to attend college, and House Republicans have released a white paper outlining their priorities for HEA.
Both plans have the goals of making college more affordable, providing students with better information about college costs and student aid, and increasing institutional accountability for student access and success.
In the House, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) divided their objectives into four principles: empowering students and families to make informed decisions; simplifying and improving student aid; promoting innovation, access, and completion; and ensuring strong accountability and a limited federal role. Chairman Kline announced his expectation to vote on at least some of the bills before the November election. Senator Harkin did not say when he would try to move a bill.
NACUBO is working on an analysis of the proposals and will provide additional information upon further review.
NACUBO does not expect final action on reauthorization of the HEA action to be swift. In a June survey of higher education "insiders" surveyed by Whiteboard Advisors, 97 percent of respondents believe reauthorization of the Higher Education Act will not happen until January 2015 at the earliest. Respondents to their survey include a small group of key education influencers (policy makers, thought leaders, and association leaders).