Earlier this year, Rep. Virginia Foxx
(R-NC), Chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, promised
to release legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). Her bill
is called the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through
Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, H.R. 4508. The Congressional
Budget Office is expected to score the bill before Congress breaks for the year
but no additional action is expected this year.
HEA, first passed in 1965 under
President Lyndon B. Johnson, it was primarily crafted to establish financial
aid for college-bound students. The law also supported the increase in
educational resources associated with colleges and universities. Over the
years, the act has undergone several reauthorizations that give lawmakers
opportunities to add or subtract its provisions according to the changing needs
of the nation’s students. Republican Members of Congress are ready to put their
own stamp on the HEA, which technically expired in 2013 and was last
reauthorized in 2008.
Following are selected provisions of
interest to academic dental institutions; more information can be found in the Committee’s
bill summary. It would:
- Simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
- Streamlines Student Aid programs into one grant program,
one loan program and one Work-Study program.
- Reduce repayment options to one standard 10-year plan
and one income-based repayment plan.
- Change the Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Program (PSLF), but grandfathers in anyone who is currently in school (at least
during their current course of study or until 2024).
- Reduce the amount graduate and professional
students can borrow each academic year to $28,500.
- Increase institutional risk-sharing tied to
student completion, which would mean that colleges would be on the hook for
portions of federal loans that students do not repay.
- Repeal federal gainful-employment regulations, which set
a threshold for borrowers' ability to pay off loans for-profit programs
and for vocational ones at community colleges and other public and private
- Add graduation-rate requirements to federal grants for
HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions.
- Remove several regulations, including restrictions on
regulations for for-profit colleges now and into the future by preventing
the Department of Education from taking some future actions to rein in
- On sexual assault, the bill seeks to encourage more due
process in how colleges treat both accusers and the accused. The bill
would also modify the Jeanne Clery Act, which governs how colleges
report campus crime, by allowing colleges to suspend judiciary proceedings
while criminal investigations are ongoing while also letting colleges
establish their own standards of evidence.
This is the
first step in a process that will lead to reauthorization of the HEA. Please watch for future Washington Updates
and Action Alerts to stay informed of its progress.