Higher Ed Groups Respond to Democrat's HEA Draft Proposal

AACRAO joined a coalition of 21 higher education groups to submit comments on Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin's (D-IA) Higher Education Affordability Act discussion draft.

The comments outlined numerous measures that garnered widespread support as well as those "of concern to the community." Overall, the coalition praised efforts to expand and ease access to federal student aid, including year-round Pell Grants and the extension of Pell Grant inflation adjustments. The groups also endorsed provisions focused on student loan policy, such as the simplification of repayment options, the elimination of origination fees, bankruptcy discharge for private loans, and improved debt collection practices and student loan services.

The coalition expressed concern over proposals that would increase federal regulation and reporting requirements.

"We are concerned that the discussion draft includes a substantial number of new requirements, but does not eliminate any existing ones," the letter states. "This approach will only serve to exacerbate an already serious problem, and we would ask that the committee pay meaningful attention to simplifying and streamlining requirements placed on institutions in any future legislation."

The comments also laid out the provisions where different sectors of higher education are split: making accreditation documents public, creating a student unit records system, and state-federal college affordability partnerships.

Sen. Harkin and congressional Democrat's massive omnibus reauthorization legislation stands virtually no chance of passing the Republican-led House of Representatives, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Congressional Republicans are, instead, taking a "piecemeal" approach to reauthorization, focusing on a set of smaller bills that address various aspects of their overall plan.

 

Related Links

Letter to Senator Tom Harkin regarding the Higher Education Affordability Act Discussion Draft

http://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Documents/Letter-Harkin-HEA-Discussion-Draft.pdf

The Chronicle of Higher Education

http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/higher-ed-lobby-concerned-about-red-tape-in-democrats-reauthorization-bill/85027