Equity Matters in the Higher Education Act
Higher education is a powerful engine of social mobility, and the benefits to society of more people earning postsecondary credentials cannot be understated. College graduates earn more. They are less likely to be unemployed. They are more likely to vote, more likely to volunteer, and more likely to maintain good health.
The original Higher Education Act (HEA) was adopted in 1965 to expand opportunity, so that no student would be denied a chance to participate in higher education due to financial limitations or socioeconomic status. Since then, the U.S. has made substantial progress in expanding college access. College-going rates are rising for students at all income levels and for every major racial and ethnic group. For example, among low-income high school graduates, college-going rates climbed from 23 percent in 1972 to 49 percent in 2013.
Ed Trust Higher Education Act Priorities
- Improve college affordability for low-income students, students of color, and other vulnerable populations
- Align federal investments with campus performance on equitable access and completion
- Support innovation and the scaling of evidence-based practices for improving completion
- Ensure that institutions of higher education protect the safety and civil rights of all students
On the House Side
As of February 2018 both chambers of the U.S. Congress have begun work on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.
In the House of Representatives, Representative Virginia Fox, chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has introduced and passed out of committee the PROSPER Act along party lines.
The Education Trust opposes the bill because it would move our nation’s higher education system backward and create more barriers for students of color and students from low-income families.
- Decreacing Access to Financial Aid
- Removing Protections From Predatory Institutions
- Limiting Data Availability and Utility
- Approaches to Accountability That Fail to Advance Equity
On the Senate Side
On the other side of Capitol Hill, the U.S. Senate has started their efforts with a series of informational hearings and Senator Alexander, chairman of the
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, has released a white paper regarding accountability in Higher Education.
While we are pleased the Senate’s efforts are focused on accountability and ensuring that every dollar the federal government invests in higher education is used effectively, efficiently, and in the best interest of the increasingly diverse public, we believe that Senator Alexander’s approach is woefully inadequate.