The House and Senate have released glimpses of what is likely to be included in the Higher Education Reauthorization Act scheduled to be reauthorized this year.

The House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce has released a “white paper” on its goals for the Higher Ed Reauthorization Bill.

The Senate has also released its outline of goals for Reauthorization. The Senate's outline contains these topics:

  1. Transparency in Accreditation Practices
  2. Create grant programs for innovation and dual enrollment for high school students
  3. Unit Record System for tracking students
  4. Allowing borrowers to refinance student loan debt
  5. Restore changes to the Pell Grant (one area of agreement with House proposal) to create a year round Pell program.
  6. New for-profit regulations applying to any institution who is seeking federal funding. One regulation moves the 90/10 rule to 85/15.
  7. Incentives for states to sustain higher education spending tying new grants to “maintenance of effort” requirements.
  8. Simplify FAFSA (another area of agreement with House). 

There is one proposal that is not in the overall Senate plan that has bipartisan support. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has proposed a “postcard” FAFSA that only includes two questions: "What was your family income two years ago?" and "How many people are in your family?" 

The House and Senate have different approaches to the bill. The Senate would like to see a broad bill that includes all components of the law. The House will most likely try to move legislation one piece at a time.  Seeing that the House will most likely NOT pass the Senate bill and the Senate will likely NOT pass the House bills sent over in piecemeal, there is little compromise expected before the November elections.

- Carol Holladay, ACPA Pubic Policy Liaison