House Democrats Unveil Comprehensive Overhaul of HEA

October 17, 2019
  • AACRAO Transcript
  • Advocacy
  • Higher Education Act

House Democrats this week introduced the College Affordability Act, which is their proposal for a comprehensive overhaul of the Higher Education Act (HEA) that has not be reauthorized in 11 years.

As with Aim Higher and the PROSPER Act, the HEA reauthorization bills that were introduced by each political party in the last Congress, we are happy to say that the College Affordability Act includes the Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act, which AACRAO strongly supports and has advocated for over the past several years. This legislation would create a new exemption under FERPA and facilitate a four-year institution's ability to share an education record with the two-year institution where a student was previously enrolled for the purpose of evaluating whether between the two institutions the student has enough credits for a credential from the community college. The student must still provide consent that they would want the credential.

Some of the other important provisions that may be of interest to AACRAO members include:

  • Creates a national tuition-free community college through a federal-state partnership model where the federal government contributes a per student amount at least 75 percent of the average resident tuition for public community colleges and states contribute 25 percent
  • Changes the 90/10 rule ratio (the percentage cap of Title IV aid an institution may receive) to 85/15 and expand it to include all educational programs
  • Increases the maximum Pell Grant award by $500 and permanently indexes the award to inflation.
  • Repeals the ban on incarcerated individuals from accessing Pell Grants
  • Allows DACA, DAPA and individuals with Temporary Protective Status access to federal student aid.
  • Simplifies FAFSA, including an automatic zero EFC for recipients of means-tested benefits
  • Includes the College Transparency Act, which strikes the "student unit record" ban, and would require the Department of Education to develop a system that uses student-level data to evaluate postsecondary outcomes
  • Prohibits the Department of Education from issuing or enforcing the proposed Title IX rules that the Administration published in November 2018.

The bill is nearly 1200 pages long, so we are still reviewing it more closely. We will obviously follow the bill's progress on Capitol Hill and keep AACRAO members and stakeholders informed.

In the meantime, please join the AACRAO Government Relations team on Wednesday, October 23 at 2:00 p.m. (ET) for a more in-depth analysis of this legislation.  Click here for more information.

- Mike