September 27, 2019

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Piecemeal HEA Reauthorization

This week Sen. Lamar Alexander released his priorities for a piecemeal Higher Education Reauthorization Act (HEA) that would simplify the FAFSA application form; allow incarcerated individuals who are eligible for parole to use a Pell grant for prison-education programs; extend Pell grants funds to short-term high-quality job training programs; and increase the maximum Pell grant award. Thus, finally providing the rest of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee with a framework for his long-awaited HEA bill, which he is desperate to pass before his retirement in 2020. Unfortunately for the Tennessee Republican, the piecemeal HEA falls short of the comprehensive reauthorization that many were expecting from the veteran Senator. In response to his proposal, Ranking Member Patty Murray of Senate HELP reiterated her stance that she is against passing legislation that falls short of a comprehensive reauthorization of higher ed law. 

While it may seem like the parties are still at an impasse, Alexander is now pushing a last ditch effort that would attach his HEA priorities with a separate $255 million bipartisan funding bill for historically black colleges and other minority-serving institutions in an attempt to bypass negotiations with Senate Dems. If Alexander decides to implement this plan, he will likely get a cold reception from House Democrats who are also against a small HEA reauthorization. Regardless of what happens next, AASA will keep you abreast of any new developments.

 
 

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