ADEA Washington Update

Higher Education Act Reauthorization: Will It Happen This Year?

(Legislation, House, Senate, Education, Financial Aid, Graduate Students, Higher Education) Permanent link   All Posts

Whether the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) will happen this year depends on whether you are in the Administration, in the Senate or in the House. On May 22, Rep. Virginia Foxx, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, gave an interview saying her committee was moving forward and taking steps to ready the PROSPER Act for the House floor. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved the legislation along party lines in December.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which would be eliminated under the House bill, has drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle. On April 18, a handful of Republicans sent a letter asking Chairwoman Foxx to preserve the program if PROSPER comes to the House floor for a vote. Yet, even if the bill passes the House, it will face trouble in the Senate.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee already held several hearings on the reauthorization. Earlier this year, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said he was working toward a reauthorization for late spring. However, last week, Sen. Alexander stated that “this year [the] committee will not produce legislation to reauthorize the [HEA], “ citing Senate Democrats as the problem.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos vowed to support the PROSPER Act at a recent House hearing, but she is not waiting for Congress to reach a consensus on reforms. Based on the Education Department’s Spring 2018 regulatory agenda, Secretary DeVos is continuing with her plans to rewrite Obama-era rules on for-profit colleges, regulations governing campus sexual assault, and restrictions on how faith-based schools access and use federal funding, whether HEA reauthorization happens this year or not.

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