U.S. House Advances Higher Education Legislation

This week the U.S. House of Representatives took action on two bills related to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

The Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (HR 4983) eliminates the College Navigator and the accountability lists put forward by the U.S. Department of Education. The website and lists would be replaced by the College Dashboard Website. The new website, developed and maintained by the Department of Education, would include institutional-level information including enrollment data, completion rates, costs, financial aid offered and cohort default rates.

The Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2013 (HR 3136) would relax financial aid rules to allow institutions to offer competency-based degrees. Several amendments were offered and accepted to the Act, including language to pilot the use of the tax return as the FAFSA.

The bills, introduced in June, are part of a series of bills advanced by the House to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. The bills now go to the U.S. Senate for consideration. The fate of the House bills is unknown. The Senate has decided to pursue a comprehensive approach to the reauthorization, instead of the piecemeal approach advanced by the House. Therefore it is unlikely that these bills or any other legislation related to the reauthorization will see any significant movement until the new Congress enters in January 2015.

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