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House Republicans Announce Three Higher Ed Act Bills

June 27, 2014
 

House Republicans on Thursday released a package of three bills that kick off their step-by-step approach to rewriting the Higher Education Act.

  • The first bill aims to boost financial counseling for students who take out federal loans or grants. It would also direct the Education Department to develop an online tool that would help students “understand their rights and obligations” of having a federal student loan.
  • The second bill would create a new “College Dashboard” website to tell families consumer information about colleges, including financial aid information and graduation rates. The data would include nontraditional students as well as Pell Grant recipients (groups of students for whom the federal government doesn’t track completion rates). The legislation would also eliminate the department’s current College Navigator website.
  • The third bill, the only one that attracted Democratic co-sponsors, aims to simplify the process by which students apply for federal student aid. It would allow the Education Department to calculate families’ needs based on their taxes filed two years prior. It would also require more data-sharing between the Internal Revenue Service and the Education Department.

The prior-prior year concept is also endorsed in legislation introduced last week by Senator Lamar Alexander, the top Republican on the Senate education committee. Alexander’s bill, though, calls for a far more drastic overhaul of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Representative John Kline, the Republican who chairs the House education committee, has said he expects the full House to vote on some of his piecemeal Higher Education Act rewrites before the November elections. 

 
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