House Republicans Release Package of Bills to Reauthorize the Higher Education Act

On Thursday, House Republicans released a package of three bills as part of a broader effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. Contrary to the approach of the Senate, which earlier last week unveiled a comprehensive 785-page legislative proposal, the House is taking a piecemeal approach to the reauthorization process.

The bipartisan Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act (H.R. 4982), introduced by Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Mike Kelly (R-PA), John Tierney (D-MA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Ed Royce (R-CA), would simplify the process by which students apply for federal student aid. It would allow the Education Department to calculate families' needs based on their taxes filed two years prior. It would also require more data sharing between the Internal Revenue Service and the Education Department.

The prior-prior year concept is also endorsed in legislation introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Sen. Alexander's bill, though, calls for a far more drastic overhaul of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

The Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (H.R. 4983), introduced by Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Luke Messer (R-IN), would create a new "College Dashboard" website to tell families consumer information about colleges, including financial aid information and graduation rates. The data would include non-traditional students as well as Pell Grant recipients. The legislation would also eliminate the department's current College Navigator website.

The Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act (H.R. 4984), introduced by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC), would boost financial counseling for students who take out federal loans or grants. It would also direct the Education Department to develop an online tool that would help students "understand their rights and obligations" of having a federal student loan.

Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House education committee, said on Tuesday he expected the chamber to vote on several proposals before the November midterm elections, reported The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Related Links

U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce Press Release

Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act (H.R. 4982)

Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (H.R. 4983)

Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act (H.R. 4984)

The Chronicle of Higher Education