Yesterday, the House Education and Workforce Committee marked up the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act. Ahead of the markup, APLU joined with the other presidential higher education associations and additional organizations in expressing deep concern with the legislation. As noted in APLU’s statement released upon the reauthorization bill’s introduction, the association is particularly concerned that the legislation would make college more expensive for students while also limiting accountability needed to protect students from institutions and programs that do not serve them well.
The House Education and the Workforce Committee approved the measure late last night by a vote of 23 to 17. The full list of amendments approved during the markup has not yet been posted by the committee.
During the markup session, Republicans repeatedly emphasized the need to “reform, not simply reauthorize,” the Higher Education Act. Democrats expressed their concerns about the rushed process for this bill, given that the text was first made available on December 1. College cost was a common concern on both sides of the aisle.
A theme in the bill is the desire to allow students to access federal financial aid for short-term training programs and additional program providers. At the markup, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (NC) said, “all education is career education.” Republicans also consistently argued that the non-profit and for-profit sectors should be treated the same. Democrats argued that the attempts to open the financial aid system to additional entities represents an erosion of accountability and makes the system susceptible to more unscrupulous actors.
Prior to the markup, the American Council on Education compiled helpful resources on the bill, including a section-by-section summary and two documents examining how the impact of eliminating the in-school interest subsidy on undergraduate loans would raise costs despite the elimination of origination fees. APLU continues to share its priorities for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and will release further analysis and concerns with the PROSPER Act.