White House Releases Proposals to Reform the Higher Education Act
In This Issue:
- White House Releases Proposals to Reform the Higher Education Act
- House Education Committee Issues Report on the Value of a College Degree
- College Transparency Act, Student Right to Know Before You Go Act Reintroduced in Senate
- Legislation to Address Hate Crimes on College Campuses Introduced in House; Contains Accreditation Provision
On March 18, 2019, the White House released proposals to reform the Higher Education Act (HEA) through legislation and revised higher education regulations. The list of proposals calls for the accreditation process to focus on student outcomes, asserting that current compliance-focused federal requirements inhibit innovation and that accrediting organizations need to return to the primary purpose of ensuring educational quality. The proposals call for Congress to streamline the ten federal recognition standards to focus on educational quality and student learning. And, the proposals call for defining accrediting organizations by the mission of their institutions, not geographically, as regional accreditors are currently structured.
On March 8, 2019, the House Committee on Education and Labor issued a report titled Don’t Stop Believin’: The Value of a College Degree. The report states that a college degree is still well worth the cost, noting that bachelor’s degree holders earn up to $1 million more and associate’s degree holders up to $400,000 more than high school graduates during their work lives. Expanded access and increased affordability are goals highlighted in the report that Committee Chair Bobby Scott (D-Virginia) expects will be addressed in the next reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
Senators Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and 13 other Republicans and Democrats reintroduced the College Transparency Act (S. 800) on March 14, 2018. First introduced in the last Congress, the bill would change the way the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) collects information on postsecondary institutions, modifying the college reporting system to include student outcomes information such as completion and post-college employment. Institutions would provide data for USDE to generate post-college outcomes reports to be presented on a user-friendly Website. Currently, the Higher Education Act prohibits a student unit record system. A companion bill (H.R. 1766) was been introduced in the House by Mitchell Paul (R-Michigan).
On March 6, 2019, Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia) reintroduced the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act (S. 681) to provide information through USDE on the costs and outcomes associated with higher education. Data focusing on graduation rates, debt levels and earning would be generated based on student information from institutions, as well as loan and income information from USDE and the Internal Revenue Service. Versions of this bill have been introduced in every Congress since 2012. A companion bill (H.R. 1565) was introduced in the House by Duncan Hunter (R-California).
Legislation to strengthen prevention and response measures relating to hate crimes on colleges campuses has been introduced in the House of Representatives. The Campus Hate Crimes Act (H.R. 761), which was introduced by Congressman Anthony Brown (D-Maryland) on January 28, 2019, would amend the Higher Education Act to direct accrediting organizations to require that the institutions they accredit have safety objectives for the institutions with respect to hate crimes and establish measures and policies to combat such crimes. This requirement would become an eleventh recognition standard in federal law.