Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.
– Chinese proverb
Volume 75 | Issue 5
September 2007

Public Policy Update

Higher Education Act Reauthorization

After three temporary extensions, the U.S. Senate finally passed their Higher Education Act Reauthorization Bill in July right before the summer recess. The House of Representatives bill is still pending. The Senate Bill includes several key provisions including safeguards to protect the integrity of the student loan process, improving and simplifying the process for filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and standards for communicating institutional information college tuition and fees. It also would prohibit the creation of any type of federal student database or tracking mechanisms.

One of the areas ACUI has been working on, as part of the Consortium on Student Affairs and Government Relations, are the bill’s new fire safety regulations and reporting for on-campus housing. ACUI has been working to ensure the regulations provide meaningful accountability that will be feasible to implement, especially in terms of greek housing fire safety reporting.

This section of the bill also establishes grants to fund:

  • Establishing a state-of-the-art emergency communications system
  • Developing emergency procedures the institution will follow to inform students, employees and others on a campus in the event of an emergency or dangerous situation
  • Methods to improve safety as in security assessments or security training
  • Establishing an emergency hotline

The bill also includes academic competitiveness grants and allows for cancellation of loans for public service professions.

House passes education funding bill

The House passed the 2008 appropriations bill for the Department of Education by a vote of 276-140. The bill increases the Pell Grant scholarship by $390 to $4,700. It also provides more funding for college access programs like TRIO and GEAR UP, a $2 billion increase for No Child Left Behind, and a provision restricting the Secretary of Education from issuing regulations for the accreditation of colleges and universities before Congress finishes reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.

Student loan budget reconciliation

On July 20, the Senate voted to increase the maximum Pell Grant to $5,100 in 2008 and to $5,400 by 2011, cap loan repayments for borrowers at no more than 15 percent of their income, and provide loan forgiveness for students who work in public service jobs. The bill would also cut $18 billion in subsidies to lenders and guarantors by increasing fees lenders pay to 1 percent of each loan, reduce insurance paid to lenders on guaranteed defaulted loans, and reduce the amount guarantors can keep from collections. The bill now goes to conference with the House version, which passed on July 11.