Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), out-going chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced legislation on November 20 to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). The measure builds on the draft bill that Senator Harkin introduced in June. The Senator said the four main goals of the legislation are "increasing college affordability, helping struggling borrowers, strengthening accountability, and improving transparency of college costs and quality."
Among other provisions, the bill aims to strengthen loan counseling and streamline loan repayment plans for students, eliminate origination fees on federal direct loans, reinstate year-round Pell Grants, and allow private student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy. It also would extend and reform the Perkins loan program and create a student unit record system to track cost and completion data at colleges and universities.
Additionally, the measure would expand programs that provide opportunities for students to earn college credits while still in high school and authorize a grant program to promote innovative ideas aimed at bringing down tuition costs. It would also create a state-federal partnership to boost investment in public colleges and universities.