HEA Reauthorization Update

The U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee in December advanced their version of a bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). The full House is poised to consider the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, H.R. 4508, as early as later this month.

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.

In recent weeks, the association—along with the higher education community at large—started to reach out to lawmakers to express reservations about the bill. AACRAO's call to action to our State & Regional organizations resulted in engagements with 236 Members of Congress, who represent 25 States and the District of Columbia and have a total of 910 schools within their districts. Specifically, the following State and Regionals sent letters to their Representatives:

  • The Pacific Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (PACRAO)
  • Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (MACRAO)
  • Kentucky Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (KACRAO)
  • Illinois Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (IACRAO)
  • Carolinas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (CACRAO)
  • Indiana Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (IACRAO)
  • Middle States Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (MSACRAO)
  • Rocky Mountain Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (RMACRAO)

Additionally, AACRAO joined a broad coalition of groups in a letter to House leaders expressing our general concerns regarding the legislation. The association will submit separate, more specific comments and recommendations to all 435 members of the House of Representatives leading up to the full chamber's consideration of the PROSPER Act.

Meanwhile, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee has held four hearings since the middle of January to discuss HEA reauthorization. HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has signaled his intention to move ahead quickly with an overhaul of the legislation, stating that he plans to have the committee mark up a bill by early spring.

Last month, Sen. Alexander laid out a framework for the reauthorization, issuing a white paper that calls for changes to how colleges are held accountable for the federal dollars they receive. The paper says lawmakers should start with a "blank slate" by eliminating some current requirements, including cohort default rates, the 90-10 rule, and gainful employment. AACRAO submitted comments on the chairman's request for input on higher education accountability measures.

The association also shared comments and recommendations in response to the HELP committee’s request for input on its HEA reauthorization process, in general.

AACRAO will continue to closely monitor any developments and engage with lawmakers in both parties and chambers as the reauthorization process moves forward.


Related Links

AACRAO comments on higher education accountability measures


AACRAO comments to Senate education committee on Higher Education Act Reauthorization


Higher Education Coalition letter to House leaders regarding the PROSPER Act