June 25, 2014—APLU President Peter McPherson today released the following statement regarding the unveiling of House and Senate proposals to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) authored the Senate bill and House Education & the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) is leading the House effort.
“We appreciate Chairman Harkin’s and Chairman Kline’s commitment to improving the financial aid system in order to help more students attend college and earn a degree. Reforming financial aid is incredibly complex. Chairman Harkin, Chairman Kline, and members of their respective committees undoubtedly spent an enormous amount of time and energy crafting legislation to make the dream of earning a college degree attainable for more Americans who want a better life for themselves and their families. We are appreciative of their efforts and will continue to examine their proposals in more detail.
“The Senate measure rightly puts demands on states to do their part with providing an affordable education to students at their public institutions. The federal-state partnership of supporting higher education has become too lopsided in recent years with cuts to higher education in many states. The House version seeks to strip away some of the bureaucratic red tape that’s impeded universities from being creative with their delivery of education to an increasingly diverse set of students. At the same time, we must ensure colleges and universities are providing good value to those students and taxpayers.
“We are pleased that both the House and Senate proposals would provide access to Pell grant funding throughout the year, including the summer, which would help some students complete their courses more quickly. In turn, this would save students money by enabling them to graduate earlier.
“We are disappointed that neither proposal currently authorizes a unit record system, which our association supports. Access to quality data is more critical than ever in making informed decisions with scarce resources. Additionally, these proposals omit a tiered accreditation process. Such a system would allow for a streamlined process for high achieving institutions while ensuring extra attention is paid to those schools that do a poor job of educating and graduating their students while leaving them with significant levels of debt.
“We look forward to working with Chairman Harkin and Chairman Kline to address some of these outstanding issues as the legislative process moves forward.”