HEA Reauthorization Kicks Off With Introduction of House and Senate Legislation
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HEA Reauthorization Kicks Off With Introduction of House and Senate Legislation
 
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October 2019

On October 16, the House Education and Labor Committee introduced the College Affordability Act, which would reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

Most pertinent for education researchers, the legislation includes provisions of the College Transparency Act (CTA), which would effectively lift the current student unit record ban included in the last HEA reauthorization in 2008. The National Center for Education Statistics would be responsible for maintaining a secure postsecondary data system intended to

  • Accurately evaluate student enrollment patterns, progression, completion, and postcollegiate outcomes, and higher education costs and financial aid
  • Assist with transparency, institutional improvement, and analysis of Federal aid programs
  • Provide accurate, complete, and customizable information for students and families making decisions about postsecondary education
  • Reduce the reporting burden on institutions of higher education

In addition, the bill amends the Education Sciences Reform Act, the authorizing legislation for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), to require disaggregation of data in the new, secure postsecondary data system and collected through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System by the racial categories included in the American Community Survey.

IES would also be involved in a few programs in the bill:

  • Independent evaluation for Community College Success Programs
  • Independent evaluation and data collection on remedial education
  • Involvement in the Competency-Based Education Demonstration Projects through data analysis and evaluation
  • Conducting a longitudinal study of the impact and effectiveness of student loan counseling

Additional information on the key components of the College Affordability Act is available in the Education and Labor Committee’s title-by-title summary.

The College Affordability Act comes on the heels of the Student Aid Improvement Act, introduced in September by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The Student Aid Improvement Act focuses on funding for historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions and includes some bipartisan higher education legislation, such as the simplification of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  The bill currently does not include provisions of the CTA, though Alexander indicated his support for the bill and willingness to include CTA in a later version of the Student Aid Improvement Act.

Alexander’s legislation contrasts with the push for a comprehensive HEA reauthorization bill by HELP Committee ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA). The Student Aid Improvement Act does not address campus sexual assault, one of Murray’s key priorities.

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