Senators Start In On HEA

Career College Central summary:

  • After months of hearings, the two key lawmakers charged with overseeing the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in the U.S. Senate are beginning to stake out firmer positions on what they want to include in the massive law that governs colleges and universities. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Senate education committee, on Thursday unveiled his plan to drastically simplify the federal student aid system. His announcement comes as Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who chairs the panel, is preparing to release a package of Higher Education Act proposals next week.
  • While Harkin is expected to provide a sweeping framework for how to rewrite the law, Alexander’s legislation released Thursday is focused only on overhauling student aid programs. The bill, which is co-sponsored by Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, a Democrat, would eliminate the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA, which asks families more than 100 questions about their financial situation. Most applicants would instead have to provide only their family size and household income.
  • Alexander has, for the past several months, been using the 10-page paper FAFSA application as a favorite prop during his higher education speeches (a shtick reminiscent of Margaret Spellings, who was education secretary under President George W. Bush). He has held up the form as a prime example of the need to deregulate and simplify federal oversight of higher education.

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