Differing Priorities For HEA
Career College Central summary:
House and Senate leaders this week released vastly different outlines for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. House Republicans want to consolidate and streamline federal student aid programs and other federal higher education regulations — emphasizing a limited federal role — while Senate Democrats are focused on more accountability measures and increasing college affordability. However, the plans cover some similar ground, such as providing more loan repayment options for struggling borrowers, allowing students to use Pell Grants year-round and improving financial aid counseling for students.
The Senate Democrats’ plan — released Wednesday by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chair of the Senate education committee — looks to get states more involved in keeping college affordable and supports community college and industry partnerships that promote innovation. It also seeks to increase dual enrollment and early high school programs — which many community colleges offer — to help students earn college credit before they finish high school.
In a joint letter to Harkin, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) lauded efforts to restore year-round Pell Grants and “ability-to-benefit” eligibility for student aid. The associations also support the consolidation of income-driven repayment options.
The House Republicans’ plan, which came from GOP leaders on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, had a fuller explanation of its priorities. In the area of student aid, the House GOP plan would consolidate most federal student aid programs into one Pell Grant program and one Stafford loan program. It explained that too often the variety of federal aid programs and their eligibility requirements and processes confuse students.
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