The Higher Education Act, which oversees federal financial aid programs, is overdue for a reauthorization. The House education committee, led by Rep Virginia Foxx, R-NC, is about to release a draft proposal called the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act. According to Inside Higher Ed, the proposal includes significant changes in several key areas:

  • Simplifying student aid programs, including the FAFSA process. Overall the goal is to have a single program each for grants, loans and work study rather than the current menu of options. The program also aims to limit the amount that parents and graduate students can borrow through the PLUS loan program.
  • Changes to repayment plans, including eliminating public service loan forgiveness and scaling back income-based repayment programs. Those currently enrolled in PSLF would be grandfathered in.
  • A rollback of Obama-administration regulations of for-profit colleges including a repeal of the gainful-employment regulations.
  • Increasing institutional accountability and risk-sharing programs. One idea in the proposals is to add “completion-oriented performance-funding elements to federal grants for colleges that enroll large numbers of minority students.”
  • Changes to work-study programs including increasing access to private sector, apprenticeship and nontraditional work-study opportunities.
  • Rules on campus free speech and sexual assault and a “tweak” to the Clery Act which governs how colleges report campus crimes.

This is likely to not receive the same rush treatment as the tax bills currently under consideration, so hopefully there can be meaningful discussions and negotiations that ultimately leave students and their families in a better place.