NAICU Washington Update

House Unveils First Rewrite of Higher Education Act in a Decade and Prepares for Fast Action

December 05, 2017

As Tax Reform was moving through the Senate, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce unveiled a 542-page rewrite of the Higher Education Act.  The Committee could mark up the bill as early as December 12.

The bill will have a significant impact on institutions and students, as well as other players affected by HEA, such as accreditors, states, and lenders, who would benefit from markets likely to be created by the new limits on federal borrowing.  For example, the bill would: 

  • Eliminate SEOG and put the money into Federal Work Study through a new distribution formula.
  • Make changes to loan limits, including imposing restrictive new annual loan limits on graduate students and parents.
  • Structure institutional eligibility to Title IV aid on a program-by-program basis based on each program’s loan repayment rate, rather than through broad institutional eligibility that currently exists.

Several bill summaries have been produced, including:
  • NAICU’s highlights of key provisions of interest to private, nonprofit colleges and universities;
  • ACE’s summary of changes in the order they appear in the bill; and
  • The Committee’s summary, which includes a glimpse into its legislative goals and intent.

On a positive note is a $300 Pell Grant bonus for students who take the equivalent of 30 credits a year, and some deregulation initiatives, including a significant rewrite of the Financial Responsibility Standards for private colleges. 

Other major changes include a restructuring of student loan terms and conditions.  This includes eliminating all current loan forgiveness and income-based repayment programs for new student borrowers in favor of two simple options with limitations on the total amount of interest that can accrue. 

The bill is not bi-partisan, and Democratic members of the Committee were not aware of the bill’s provisions until it was unveiled.  The Republican members of the Committee will need to be closely aligned to ensure a clean mark-up.

It is unclear when the bill will be brought to the floor of the House.  The Senate plans to take up its bill in early 2018.  In the Senate, democratic votes will be needed to ensure passage.


For more information on the student aid provisions, contact Tim Powers.

For more information on the definitions and accountability provisions, contact Jody Feder.

For more information on non-Title IV programs, contact Stephanie Giesecke.

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