NAICU Washington Update

House Committee Unanimously Approves Three Higher Education Bills

July 10, 2014

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved three bills today intended to serve as building blocks towards the comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Despite a September 30 expiration date, work on a comprehensive HEA bill is unlikely to be completed before Congress adjourns this fall.

The bills that advanced through the committee establish a demonstration program for competency-based education, require annual student loan and Pell Grant counseling, and simplify consumer information for students and families. Earlier this week, NAICU joined a number of higher education associations in a letter applauding the committee for moving forward in these areas and expressing our continued cooperation in refining the measures as they advance through the legislative process.

Underlying the comity of the committee in offering unanimous support for these measures was a preview of the political battles that lie ahead when Congress tackles a comprehensive HEA reauthorization bill.  Democratic members of the committee put forward a series of amendments addressing student debt and for-profit institutions—calling for the refinancing of student loans, disclosure of repayment rate information, and including veterans’ education benefits in the 90-10 rule.  All three amendments fell on party-line votes.

The full House is expected to consider these and other narrowly-focused HEA measures throughout the remainder of the 113th Congress. If a full HEA reauthorization bill is not passed by the end of September, Congress is likely to pass an extension to ensure federal financial aid programs and other provisions of the current bill remain in effect in fiscal year 2015.

MORE News from NAICU