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>> Higher Ed Leg Update

OCTOBER

On September 27, the President signed into law the College Cost and Reduction Act (H.R. 2669). The legislation amends the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965 to increase the maximum annual Pell grant award to the neediest students by $1,090 per student over five years to $5,400 per student; cap student loan payments at 15 percent of discretionary income; and forgive the remaining debt of individuals with loans from the U.S. Department of Education's direct loan program after they work 10 years in designated public service fields, such as public schools and law enforcement.  The Senate passed a comprehensive reauthorization (S.1642) of the Higher Education Act (HEA) in July. The House has not yet taken similar action, and H.R. 2669 may include all the changes to HEA that will happen this year. Congress extended existing HEA law until October 31, 2007.

On September 30, the President signed into law H.R. 3625, a bill to make permanent the provisions of the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003 (HEROES Act).  These provisions provide the Secretary of Education waiver authority with respect to student financial assistance during a war or other military operation or national emergency.

 

SEPTEMBER

 

On July 24, the Senate passed its reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).  The House has yet to take similar action. The Senate HEA reauthorization raises the ceiling for the maximum Pell Grant to $6,300 per student per year, potentially simplifies the federal financial aid application process, imposes new regulations on the relationships between lenders and colleges, promises to watch more closely college tuition increases, and eliminates the U.S. DOEd committee that recognizes accrediting agencies. The bill also authorizes an expansion of GEAR-UP and TRIO programs.

On September 7, the House of Representatives passed the College Cost and Reduction Act by a vote of 292-97. The Senate adopted the bill earlier that day by a vote of 79-12. The legislation would increase the maximum annual Pell grant award to the neediest students by $1,090 per student over five years to $5,400 per student; cap student loan payments at 15 percent of discretionary income; and forgive the remaining debt of individuals with loans from the U.S. DOEd's direct loan program after they work 10 years in designated public service fields, such as public schools and law enforcement. Capitol Hill insiders expect the president to sign the bill into law, at which point, the authorized changes will take effect on October 1.

 

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