FUTURE Act Passes Congress

On December 10 the U.S. Senate passed the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act (H.R.5363) after the House passed the bill by a vote of 319-96 earlier in the day. The entire Oregon delegation voted for passage of the bill. The bill now moves to the President for signature, who recently expressed support for the measure.

The FUTURE Act would improve college student financial aid application and repayment processes. The final version of the bill contains amendments sought by the House Ways and Means Committee after it expressed concern about allowing the Internal Revenue Service to transfer vast amounts of confidential taxpayer information to the Department of Education and its third-party contractors. Proponents of the bill say it will help simplify and reduce the number of questions on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and help automate how borrowers enroll in and stay enrolled in income-based repayment programs, which currently require borrowers to manually provide their tax information each year.

Among the legislation’s proponents is the American Council on Education (ACE), which sent a letter to the House with signatures from 42 associations expressing support of the FUTURE Act:

“[T]he FUTURE Act would make significant improvements to the federal student aid system, by simplifying and streamlining the processes for applying for student aid and repaying student loans. This will dramatically simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and make it far easier for low- and middle-income families to apply for and receive federal student aid.”

Along with changes to the data-sharing process for federal student loans, the bill would also permanently extend mandatory funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs).