Congress is considering several proposals to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) with the most recent bill being introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IOWA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions ("HELP") Committee.
Harkin introduced one comprehensive bill, whereas the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, under the leadership of Congressman John Kline (R-Minnesota), has considered a number of smaller bills that address specific aspects of the HEA. Harkin’s “Higher Education Affordability Act,” released on June 25 as a draft discussion proposal, has four main goals: increasing college affordability, helping struggling borrowers, strengthening accountability, and improving transparency. Chairman Harkin invites interested stakeholders to submit comments about the draft bill to the Committee by Friday, August 29, using the following email address: HEAA2014@help.senate.gov.
On June 24, Congressman Kline and Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina) released the outline of their priorities for reauthorization, divided into four principles. These are: empowering students and families to make informed decisions; simplifying and improving student aid; promoting innovation, access, and completion; and ensuring strong accountability and a limited federal role.
There are some areas of agreement between the House and Senate approaches. For example, both would consolidate student loan repayment plans into a single income-based repayment program, make Pell Grants available year-round, improve students’ financial literacy and offer improved financial counseling for students and simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
UO Government and Community Relations is working with institutional leadership to analyze and participate in the reauthorization process when appropriate, and will continue to offer the campus community updates on the process.