Congressional College Oversight Bill Passes

-------------------------------------

With an important election just months away, Democrats and Republicans agreed to pass the renewed Higher Education Act and President Bush is expected to sign the legislation shortly.

With an important election just months away, congressional Democrats and Republicans agreed to pass the renewed Higher Education Act with President Bush expected to sign the legislation.

Colleges and universities all across America may soon have a big incentive to contain costs if President Bush signs a Congressional oversight bill as he is expected to do. The legislation is the renewal of the Higher Education Act, enacted by President Johnson as part of his Great Society initiative in 1965. The bill had expired in 2003, with temporary extensions passed until Congress could agree on its renewal.

Schools Will Be Required To Contain Costs

The bill is designed to put pressure on colleges and universities to contain costs by requiring them to give reasons for their increases. The Education Department would make this information available on its website, by tracking and listing the most expensive colleges each year, including those with the biggest tuition increases.

Additionally, the bill requires states to do their part to contain tuition increases at public colleges and universities to make sure that they’re adequately funded. The Higher Education Act would require that schools maintain their level of funding or risk losing certain federal funds. If states drop their funding below the average for the previous five academic years, then some monies could be withheld.

Twenty years ago, states contributed an average of 15% of the funding for colleges, a number that has decreased to about 11% resulting in huge tuition increases during that time. Even adjusted for inflation tuition has climbed 78% over the past two decades.

Textbooks, Private Student Loans Impacted

Additional consumer protections will also kick in and will include:

  • Federal Pell Grant funding will double by 2014. In addition, grant money can be used year round instead of for the fall and spring semesters only.
  • For schools who work with lending institutions that promote private student loans, the bill would require more transparency in the process, particularly showing what benefit the school gets by working with a particular lender.
  • Schools are required to immediately notify students of an on-campus emergency, a mandate added as a response to the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.
  • Textbook publishers will now be required to provide pricing information to faculty and sell supplemental materials separately. The bill asks colleges to provide textbook prices in advance to students.

Other highlights of the bill include a “loan forgiveness” program where grads who enter “high needs” professions can have their college debt dismissed. These professions include careers in engineering and math, technology, science, and other fields.

(Source: Wall Street Journal)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

end of post idea

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Helpful article? Leave us a quick comment below.
And please share this article within your social networks.