Call to Action on House PROSPER Act

There has been a flurry of recent movement on Capitol Hill regarding the Higher Education Act reauthorization. The law, first enacted in 1965 and last reauthorized in 2008, governs federal higher education programs.

The U.S. Senate in January hosted four hearings on topics related to college affordability, accountability, access and innovation, and financial aid simplification and transparency. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has signaled his intent to introduce HEA reauthorization legislation by Easter.

Meanwhile, House Republicans in December released their version of a bill to rewrite the law. The House Education and Workforce Committee advanced the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, H.R. 4508, in December, with few amendments. The full House is now poised to consider the measure as early as later this month and higher education associations are encourging their members to contact their Congressional representatives in order to ensure that our voices are heard.

The proposed legislation includes some practical proposals, including measures to simplify the FAFSA form, provide Pell Grant bonuses to incentivize completion, eliminate loan origination fees, redevelop the federal work study formula, and create a new FERPA exemption to facilitate reverse transfer, among others.

However, AACRAO is concerned about numerous other provisions that would negatively impact institutions, students, and college affordability. The elimination of the in-school interest subsidy for undergraduate students, the termination of the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, and the elimination of loan forgiveness and other benefits currently available in the student loan programs would immediately increase the cost of college. The bill would also limit federal graduate loans and reduce funding for the TRIO program by $50 million. A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the PROSPER Act would reduce overall federal student aid funding by $14.6 billion and spending on federal student loan programs by $26.3 billion over 10 years.

Additionally, the legislation would make significant changes in federal higher education policy without a clear understanding of the likely consequences, including weakening federal oversight of fraud and abuse in the federal aid system and revising the return of Title IV funds. Please click here for a summary of AACRAO's areas of support and concerns within the PROSPER Act.

We encourage all AACRAO members to use the online Call to Action form ​to contact your U.S. Representative to express your concerns regarding the PROSPER Act.

AACRAO, as a national association, intends to reach out to House leaders with a detailed letter outlining our positions on the legislation's practical as well as more controversial provisions. 

 

AACRAO Areas of Support and Concerns within House PROSPER Act

Form Letter on PROSPER Act