Press Release

WASHINGTON (June 25, 2014) —The Education Trust issued the following statement in response to Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA).

“We applaud Chairman Tom Harkin’s serious proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, and are pleased to see a number of improvements for students, including: federal incentives for states to invest in higher education, more information and counseling for students about financial aid, the reinstitution of year-round Pell Grants, and efforts to strengthen educator preparation programs.

“Our nation’s higher education system is failing too many students, especially students of color and those from low-income families. Students are taking on enormous amounts of debt, deserving Pell recipients are shut out of top-tier schools, and many leave school with degrees that offer little marketplace value, if they finish college at all.

“The U.S. higher education system is in need of bold change, and we are hopeful Congress will address other specific shortcomings in higher education as the HEA reauthorization process moves forward. The federal government can and should use its existing financial resources to cap student debt for low- and middle-income families and establish rigorous minimum performance standards for higher education institutions. More needs to be done to hold the lowest performing institutions accountable for taking taxpayer money while grossly underserving students.

“We appreciate Sen. Harkin’s leadership on higher education. We are ready to roll up our sleeves to make sure that a reauthorized HEA bill will provide all students with the opportunity to obtain a quality postsecondary education.”