Issue Brief: Higher Education Act Reauthorization
    May 19, 2017

    Advanced degrees are becoming a necessary entry-level requirement for many of the fastest growing occupations of the 21st century. America’s capacity to develop the talent required to meet national needs and to compete in the global economy depends on individuals having access to quality postsecondary education, both undergraduate and graduate. The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act provides the opportunity to include policy changes that address these challenges so that America has the educated and skilled workforce necessary to advance the U.S. economy. These changes may however, require different approaches for undergraduate and graduate students.


    CGS recommends the following principles for HEA reauthorization:


    Establish procedures that support master’s and doctoral students to make informed financial aid decisions to reduce their borrowing and debt.

    • Provide loan counseling for students at points of transition in the education continuum, including for first time graduate students.
    • Make clear the difference between the amount students are eligible to borrow versus the amount they need to borrow, and require the student to affirmatively make the choice.
    • Eliminate duplicative costs for a given academic year, for example by consolidating multiple loan origination fees into a single fee.
    • Include information regarding the sources of funding that comprise the student’s award package and the tax liability associated with each source of funding.
    • Notify periodically, master’s and doctoral students of their loan repayment options and the amount of interest accrued on their loans.
    • Consolidate and reduce the number of loan repayment options available to standard repayment, extended repayment and income-driven repayment strategies.


    Modify Annual and Aggregate Loan limits

    • Set separate undergraduate and graduate aggregate loan limits for federal education loans.
    • Retain Grad PLUS loans, but require affirmative choice as to amount borrowed.
    • Provide authority to review and adjust the annual and aggregate student loan limits based on specific economic factors, such as the Consumer Price Index.


    Create incentives for innovative programs and programs that increase degree completion and respond to the demands of the workforce in areas of national need.


    • Provide Pell Grants to income-eligible graduate students who have not exhausted their full Pell eligibility as undergraduates, up to the total number of semesters allowed in law.
    • Encourage the design and implementation of graduate programs that combine rigorous disciplinary content with workforce expectations.
    • Review on a periodic basis the list of “areas of national need” under the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program.
    • Support a separate Javits Fellowships Program for the arts, humanities and social sciences.


    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national advocate for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource for policymakers and others on issues concerning graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS members receive regular updates of legislative and regulatory proposals impacting graduate education and are provided resources to use in advocacy efforts on their campuses and with policymakers and other constituents. 
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.