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In the run-up to the 2024 presidential election, Capitol Hill lawmakers are prioritizing higher education reform, exemplified by the introduction of major legislation that could significantly reshape federal student aid and institutional accountability. While these measures are unlikely to be signed into law, it is critical for business officers to be aware of these proposals to effectively prepare for potential changes.

Democrats' Roadmap to College Student Success

On January 30, House Education and Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the Roadmap to College Student Success, a collection of bills focused on increasing accessibility and affordability. The proposals include doubling the Pell Grant, reforming the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, lowering loan interest rates, creating a federal-state partnership for tuition-free community college or HBCUs/MSIs, extending Pell Grant eligibility to graduate students and expanding lifetime eligibility from 12 to 16 semesters, ensuring better data on student outcomes, aiding high school-to-college transition for students with disabilities, and informing Federal Work-Study students about potential SNAP benefits eligibility. This approach suggests a shift towards greater federal support for students.


Republicans’ College Cost Reduction and Affordability Act (H.R. 6951)

The House Education and Workforce Committee's Republican majority approved H.R. 6951, the College Cost Reduction and Affordability Act (CCRA) on January 31. Introduced by Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the legislation proposes significant changes to the current federal student aid system. Its main features include a cap on federal student aid, including $100,000 for graduate students and $150,000 for professional students. Additionally, it proposes a reduction in the maximum aggregate borrowing limit for undergraduate students with unsubsidized loans, lowering it from $57,500 to $50,000, and aims to eliminate the option for students to borrow from the Grad PLUS and Parent PLUS loan programs.


Response from the Higher Education Sector

The American Council on Education (ACE), NACUBO, and other stakeholder groups sent a letter to Reps. Scott and Foxx, acknowledging the complexity of the bill and its proposed substantial restructuring of federal student aid, lending, repayment, and accreditation processes. While the sector is supportive of efforts to simplify student loan repayment and remove interest capitalization and loan origination fees, the letter expresses significant concerns about several aspects of the proposed legislation, including the value-added earnings vs. total price formula, risk-sharing proposals, changes to the needs analysis formula, elimination of certain federal grants and loan programs, and the impact of these changes on institutions and students.


Implications and Advocacy

Following the passage of CCRA out of committee, the legislation can now head to the House floor for consideration. While a vote on the legislation has not been scheduled, the political climate and negotiations will play a critical role in determining the direction of higher education policy. Business officers should prepare for various scenarios, including increased federal involvement in student aid and changes to institutional accountability standards.

These legislative proposals signal a need for strategic readiness among business officers. NACUBO is committed to assisting business officers in addressing these potential challenges by offering resources and guidance to help you navigate potential changes.

To jumpstart your advocacy journey, please consider watching last week’s Advocacy 101 webinar. This resource was designed to equip you with the necessary tools, tactics and insights to become a successful advocate.

Contact

Ashley Jackson

Director, Government Affairs

202.861.2522


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