Senator Lamar Alexander Introduces Proposals to Update the Higher Education Act
SENATE HELP COMMITTEE CHAIR LAMAR ALEXANDER INTRODUCES PACKAGE OF PROPOSALS TO UPDATE THE HIGHER EDUCATION ACT
On September 26, 2019, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced the Student Aid Improvement Act (S. 2557) a package of proposals that would update portions of the Higher Education Act (HEA). While the 169-page bill does not directly address accreditation, it contains several provisions that, if enacted, could have an impact on accrediting organizations and institutions.
There are several areas the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) will monitor for their potential impact on accreditation. For example, we need to know more about the quality review that could be required. The bill states that institutions of higher education are to provide these offerings; it does not address any role that alternative providers might play. We also need to better understand the role of the Secretary of Education and eligibility for federal funds in relation to the role of accreditation.
Along with permanent mandatory funding of $255 million per year for historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions, the bill’s provisions include:
- Simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), including reducing the number of questions asked on the application.
- Expanding Pell Grant eligibility to include incarcerated individuals.
- Allowing the use of Pell Grants for short-term higher education programs
- Standardizing the format and terminology used in financial aid letters.
For additional articles and commentary on the legislation, see Inside Higher Ed and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
CHEA will continue to follow this legislation closely and report on any Senate activity related to the bill.
CURRENT TERMS TO EXPIRE FOR FIVE MEMBERS OF NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON INSTITUTIONAL QUALITY AND INTEGRITY
The current terms of five members of the U.S. Department of Education’s (USDE) National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) will expire on September 30, 2019. NACIQI is the advisory body that provides recommendations to the Secretary of Education on recognition of accrediting organizations. The five members are Simon Boehme, John Etchemendy, Susan Phillips, Frank Wu and Federico Zaragoza, all of whom were nominated by USDE, Information is not yet available concerning nominations, appointments or reappointments to NACIQI.