A proposed U.S. House of Representatives bill by the Committee on Education and the Workforce could bring sweeping reform to higher education policy.
The committee, chaired by Republican N.C. Rep. Virginia Foxx, introduced the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform Act Friday. The bill reauthorizes the Higher Education Act of 1965.
If passed, the bill would be the most recent update to the HEA since 2008. In a joint statement, Foxx and Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-KY, said the promise of post-secondary education is broken.
“We need a higher education system that is designed to meet the needs of today’s students and has the flexibility to innovate for tomorrow’s workforce opportunities,” the statement said. “The PROSPER Act is higher education’s long overdue reform.”
The main goals of the bill are promoting innovation, access and completion; simplifying and improving aid; empowering students and families to make informed decisions and ensuring strong accountability and a limited federal role, the committee reported in its summary of the bill.
"(Foxx) frequently cites UNC's Carolina Covenant as an example of the kind of institution-driven programs we need to encourage students to pursue higher education and finish what they start," a spokesperson for the committee said in an email.
One pressing aspect of the bill is to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, making it consumer-focused and available to use on mobile devices.
Revisions to the HEA include increasing the tools available for students to use when filling out their financial information, such as transferring data straight from the Internal Revenue Service to reduce the amount of original data entry by applicants.
Another significant update in the bill is the change in funding eligibility for historically black and minority-serving institutions, which currently receive funding from the federal government without having to meet quantitative guidelines. The PROSPER Act would require these institutions to have a completion rate of at least 25 percent in order to receive funding.