Aim Higher Act Introduced by House Democrats

    On July 24, Democrats on the House Education and Workforce Committee unveiled the “Aim Higher Act” proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA), the comprehensive law that drives policies and programs impacting students and institutions. A stark contrast to the Republican-backed PROSPER Act (H.R. 4508), which also outlines a path for HEA reauthorization, the Aim Higher Act proposes additional investments in student financial aid programs but would increase regulatory reporting requirements for institutions. 

     

    Several of CGS’s policy principles on HEA reauthorization are reflected in Aim Higher, including improving procedures so that students can make more informed financial aid decisions, supporting programs that increase degree completion, and extending Pell Grants to graduate studies. Noting that the bill would strengthen support for certain federal student financial aid and loan repayment options, CGS President Suzanne Ortega stated “We are encouraged to see additional investments in programs that ensure students, including those pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees, are successful. A workforce that propels the nation as a global competitor begins with strengthening the higher education pipeline.”

     

    Provisions related to graduate education in the Aim Higher Act include:

     

     Borrowing, Repayment, & Loan Counseling 

    • Does not cap graduate student borrowing
    • Eliminates origination fees on all federal student loans
    • Requires annual student loan counseling, tailored to the type of aid borrowers receive
    • Simplifies the federal student loan system by replacing the numerous existing repayment plans with one fixed repayment plan and one income-based repayment plan
    • Preserves and extends the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program

     

    Student Aid Programs

    • Increases the annual Pell Grant award by $500 and allows students to exhaust the full amount on graduate studies following completion of a bachelor’s degree
    • Preserves Federal Work Study for graduate students
    • Restores the Perkins Loan Program for graduate students
    • Increases funding for TRIO programs, which includes the McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program
    • Maintains and extends the TEACH Grant program and protects recipients from unintended grant-to-loan conversion
    • Reauthorizes Title VI programs and provides an increase of $60 million

     

    Given that time remaining on the Congressional calendar is limited and the likelihood of securing the minimum number of votes is low, the bill is not expected to pass.However, CGS remains committed to working with Congress in a bipartisan manner as efforts to advance HEA reauthorization continue.

     

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