The Higher Education Act (HEA) is a federal law that governs the administration of federal higher education programs. Its purpose is to strengthen the educational resources of our colleges and universities and to provide financial assistance for students in postsecondary and higher education.

First passed in 1965 to ensure that every individual has access to higher education, regardless of income or zip code, the HEA governs student-aid programs, federal aid to colleges, and oversight of teacher preparation programs. It is generally scheduled for reauthorization by Congress every five years to encourage growth and change.

The HEA has been reauthorized in 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1986, 1992, 1998, and 2008. Current authorization for the programs in the Higher Education Act expired at the end of 2013, but has been extended while Congress prepares changes and amendments.

House HEA Reauthorization Bill

House Republicans in December released their version of a bill to rewrite the law. The proposal marked the first movement on reauthorizing the landmark legislation since the House passed a set of piecemeal measures several years ago. The House Education and Workforce Committee advanced the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, H.R. 4508, in December, with few amendments. The full House is now poised to consider the measure as early as later this month.

AACRAO Call to Action
Contact your U.S. Representative to express items that we support, as well as areas of deep concern, regarding the House PROSPER Act.

Summary of AACRAO's Positions on PROSPER Act Provisions

Senate Action

The U.S. Senate in January hosted four hearings on topics related to college affordability, accountability, access and innovation, and financial aid simplification and transparency. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has signaled his intent to introduce HEA reauthorization legislation by Easter.

AACRAO comments to Senate education committee on Higher Education Act Reauthorization

AACRAO comments on Sen. Alexander's White Paper on Higher Education Accountability

Recent News

Call to Action on House PROSPER Act 2/8/18

AACRAO urges members to use new online Advocacy Center to contact their U.S. Representative and express concerns regarding proposed legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. Read more.

HEA Reauthorization Updates 3/1/18

AACRAO engages with lawmakers in House and Senate to discuss policy priorities and concerns as the Higher Education Act reauthorization process moves forward. Read more.

Senate Republicans, Democrats Outline Priorities for HEA Reauthorization 2/8/18

Lawmakers release dueling sets of principles and priorities aimed at guiding the chamber's discussions to rewrite the landmark higher education law. Read more.

Congressional Hearings Tackle HEA Reauthorization Issues 2/1/18

House and Senate education committees hold a number of hearings on accountability, innovation and access, and data privacy. Read more.

Federal Work Study Under the PROSPER Act 1/24/18

Despite a proposed increase in appropriations to the program, proposed changes to the program under the PROSPER Act would significantly decrease funding at the institutional level for many colleges and universities. Read more.

Senate HEA Reauthorization Hearing on Simplifying Student Aid 1/23/18

Education committee held a hearing to discuss proposals to simplify the federal financial aid system to make it easier and more transparent for students. Read more.

House HEA Markup and Reverse Transfer Legislation 12/14/2017

The U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee marked-up legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA), which includes Reverse Transfer language that AACRAO strongly support, but also contains a number of other provisions that are concerning to the higher education community. Read more.

House Republicans Unveil Bill to Reauthorize HEA 12/7/2017

House Republicans in December released a sweeping bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). The law, first enacted in 1965 and last reauthorized in 2008, governs federal higher education programs. The proposal marks the first movement on reauthorizing the landmark legislation since the House passed a set of piecemeal measures several years ago. Read more.

Last updated 2/8/2018