Lead Democrat Releases Plan for HEA Reauthorization

On the heels of the Republican release of their proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the Democrats released a “discussion draft” yesterday.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chair of the Senate education committee, released a draft proposal that will remain open for public comment through August 29.  In an outline of the proposal, the Senator put forward the following concepts:

  • Increase affordability and reduce college costs for students by creating a state-federal college affordability partnership to increase state investment in higher education and lower the costs of tuition for students.
  • Reinstate year-round Pell Grants.
  • Eliminate origination fees on federal Direct Loans.
  • Support community college and industry partnerships that promote innovation in higher education.
  • Expand access to dual enrollment and early college high school programs.
  • Strengthen student loan servicing standards through the creation of common-sense consumer protections.
  • Streamline repayment plans to create a single income-based repayment option.
  • Automatically enroll severely delinquent borrowers into income-based repayment.
  • Allow private student loans to be discharged in bankruptcy.
  • Reform abuses in the collections process and reduce unfair fees.
  • Provide student and policymakers with more meaningful disclosures and accountability metrics for institutions, including loan repayment rates.
  • Establish a risk-sharing commission to explore holding low-performing institutions financially responsible for poor student outcomes.
  • Protect taxpayers by changing the 90-10 rule for for-profit institutions to 85-15.
  • Guarantee that federal education dollars are not used on advertising and marketing.
  • Create a student complaint system to better track harmful practices.
  • Authorize several programs to reform and improve teacher and school leader preparation.
  • Provide notification to middle and high school students of their potential eligibility for federal aid.
  • Provide better up-front information and disclosures to prospective students.
  • Standardize the financial aid award letter .
  • Strengthen entrance and exit loan counseling.


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