Update on Higher Education Act passes in House of Representatives

Rachel Abbey

If the House of Representatives has its way, students will have an easier time applying for financial aid, and colleges will be held accountable for large increases in tuition.

The House passed its version of the Higher Education Act, the College Access and Opportunity Act of 2006, on March 30.

The Higher Education Act defines how to distribute financial aid, according to the Associated Press. It hasn’t been updated since 1998.

The bill still has to pass in the Senate, and the two versions will have to agree, said Constance Hawke, director of federal relations and associate university counsel. The bill has been extended through June, and could always be extended again.

The education community is pretty happy with the House’s version, Hawke said. It eliminated a lot of unnecessary provisions, such as one that would have given copyright violations the ability to affect a student’s financial aid.

The bill tried to make college more accessible to students. Proponents say it would streamline the financial aid process, Hawke said.

The bill would also increase the maximum limits on Pell Grants and some loans.

While the bill would require colleges who dramatically raise their tuition rates to explain why to the government, the final draft was more lenient, Hawke said.

“Overall, I think the colleges and universities and the people who follow these things are pleased with what came out,” Hawke said.

The National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges expressed support for the bill in a press release. According to its Web site, the association supports educational excellence in teaching, research and public service on the behalf of its more than 200 members, including Kent State.

Their president said he is looking forward to seeing the bill’s completion.

This is not the final draft of the bill, Hawke said, and it could still change.

Contact administration reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected]