On a bipartisan basis, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved three bills that alter certain aspects of the Higher Education Act (HEA), representing a piecemeal start to the House’s formal HEA reauthorization process. The current intention is for the full House to pass the bills before the August recess. During the markup, Democratic members attempted to offer amendments that would allow students to refinance their loans at lower interest rates; alter the “90/10 rule” (which applies only to for-profit colleges) to treat veterans benefits as federal aid, and thereby make the standard harder to meet; and require the disclosure of an institutional loan repayment rates to prospective students. However, Republicans blocked votes on all of them for being non-germane to the legislation being considered.
The three reported bills are:
Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act (H.R. 3136). Introduced by Reps. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Jared Polis (D-CO), the bill allows the Secretary of Education to waive a variety of existing laws and regulations to allow students enrolled in competency-based programs to receive student aid.
Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (H.R. 4893). This legislation, introduced by Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Luke Messer (R-IN), overhauls the current College Navigator website, streamlining the amount of information presented on the site and giving students new types of information about colleges and universities.
The Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act (H.R. 4894). Introduced by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC), this legislation imposes greater counseling responsibilities on colleges to help students manage their student financial aid.
AACC supported this legislation but will work to alter its details in the weeks to come. There appears to be almost no chance of this legislation being enacted by the end of the current Congress.