July 28, 2014
The U.S. House of Representatives passed two higher-education bills on Wednesday, July 23, as part of its reauthorization of the Higher Education Opportunity Act.
Bill HR 3136 would boost competency-based education by directing the Secretary of Education to select up to 30 higher education institutions to voluntarily participate in competency-based education demonstration programs. The legislation would allow a waiver of federal regulations for student aid for colleges that choose to participate.
Bill HR 4983 would streamline information on how the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) discloses college data—including annually updating enrollment, completion rates, costs, and use of financial aid—to prospective students. It would require the secretary to enable users of the College Dashboard website to easily compare information between institutions of higher education. This legislation would also eliminate lists that DOE compiles of the most and least expensive colleges, and would require colleges and universities to report the number of classes taught by part-time and full-time instructors.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act, a law that governs federal student aid, expires at the end of 2014, and is due for reauthorization. The original law, the Higher Education Act of 1965, has been reauthorized nine times. It covers how federal money is awarded to colleges and students, including loan limits, accreditation, and appropriations.
The bills now go to the Senate for consideration. Some experts say reauthorization may not be accomplished in 2014. The last reauthorization took five years.
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