In one of the most significant steps toward Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization in recent years, the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor has announced a series of five bipartisan hearings to be held in coming months that are designed to formally begin the long-overdue update to the HEA.
While hearing dates have not yet been announced, topics for each hearing have been set:
- The Cost of College: Student Centered Reforms to Bring Higher Education Within Reach
- Strengthening Accountability in Higher Education to Better Serve Students and Taxpayers
- The Cost of Non-Completion: Improving Student Outcomes in Higher Education
- Engines of Economic Mobility: The Critical Role of Community Colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Minority-Serving Institutions in Preparing Students for Success
- Innovation to Improve Equity: Exploring High-Quality Pathways to a College Degree
In a joint statement, Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) announced that the hearings “[reflect] our commitment to developing bold solutions that are supported by evidence and research on higher education.”
In the Senate, similar efforts to negotiate an HEA reauthorization bill are underway as well. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) both have indicated that reauthorization is a priority for them. Murray has stated that her priorities for reauthorization include “improving college affordability, holding schools accountable for student success, expanding access to higher education, and increasing campus safety and protecting students' civil rights.” Alexander has identified his priorities as simplifying the FAFSA form, creating a new income-based repayment plan for borrowers, and building an accountability system for colleges based on borrower repayment. Both have indicated an openness to an HEA reauthorization that does not include free college proposals but that does include stricter accountability measures for proprietary institutions.
NACUBO has a series of materials related to HEA reauthorization available here.