The chairmen of the House and Senate education committees have both outlined their plans to reauthorize the nation’s main higher education law. The question now is whether they can find common ground to renew the Higher Education Act this year.
Both Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia) on Thursday outlined their plans at a forum hosted by Inside Higher Ed in Washington, D.C. Alexander highlighted the three pillars of his plan – simplifying the federal student aid application, streamlining student loan repayment options and expanding the so-called “gainful employment” rules to all colleges and universities – which he announced on Monday. Scott, meanwhile, focused on elements of an HEA reform bill that Democrats released in 2017 called the Aim Higher Act.
Scott, who is the new chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, said he wants Congress to pass a comprehensive HEA bill, rather than a narrow compromise measure that just “changes things on the margins.” The Aim Higher Act would make those sweeping changes, he said, cited that the bill would, in part, provide additional resources for student support services at community colleges, particularly those with high percentages of low-income and minority students.