Senate GOP leader mulls piecemeal update to Higher Education Act tied to HBCU funding, which could include short-term Pell, student data, FAFSA simplification and lifting prison Pell ban. But plan might be tough sell for Democrats.
WASHINGTON — GOP senator Lamar Alexander is expected to introduce legislation soon that would offer a path to piecemeal reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, after months of stalled talks over a bipartisan overhaul of the landmark law, which wasn’t expected to move until at least next year.
Alexander, the chairman of the Senate education committee, has said he wants to pass an update to the HEA before he retires after next year. He’s particularly eager to simplify the application for federal student aid known as the FAFSA and the myriad repayment options for student borrowers.
A scaled-back package of higher education bills — which could be attached to a funding bill for historically black colleges that Congress is under pressure to pass by Sept. 30 — could include a streamlined FAFSA application, the College Transparency Act, expanded Pell Grants for incarcerated students and the broadening of Pell eligibility to short-term programs, according to a wide range of individuals with knowledge of the discussions. Alexander’s office didn’t respond to questions about plans to introduce a broader HEA proposal.