Federal Policy and Legislation

Higher Education Act

The Higher Education Act (HEA) authorizes many federal student financial aid programs and competitive grants to support innovation in higher education, reporting requirements for institutions, and much more. The current statute was signed into law in August 2008 and included substantive changes impacting educator preparation.

Title II of HEA emphasizes strengthening the clinical components of preparation programs and ensuring that all candidates are prepared to teach students with special needs and English language learners. Part A of Title II includes provisions on program accountability and evaluation (including program data collection, state and institutional report cards, and identifying low-performing programs). Also featured in Part A is the Teacher Quality Partnership grant program, the only federal initiative designed to strengthen and reform teacher preparation in concert with higher education.

Part B of Title II features provisions for increasing educator diversity, educator use of technology in classrooms, and the creation of an adjunct teacher corps to recruit and train individuals with subject matter expertise to staff high-need fields. Additionally, Part B includes a grant program to prepare general education teachers to more effectively educate students with disabilities. However, these programs have not received funding to support the goals of the programs.

Learn more about HEA in these reports from the Congressional Research Service:

The Educator Preparation Reform Act: Reauthorizing Title II of HEA

AACTE, along with other higher education and PK-12 associations, supports the Educator Preparation Reform Act (EPRA), which reauthorizes Title II of HEA. EPRA includes expanding the Teacher Quality Partnership grants to support principal residency programs, streamlines Title II data collection, deepens the incentive for states to hold educator preparation programs accountable, and makes key changes to the TEACH grant program.

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Representative Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) reintroduced EPRA in early August 2017 (S. 1694 and H.R. 3636, respectively).

Download a summary document on EPRA that can be shared with elected officials.

Reauthorization in the 115th Congress Begins!

On December 1, 2017, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce introduced the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act” to reauthorize HEA.

The 542-page bill makes changes to federal student financial aid along with a number of changes that directly affect educator preparation.

The bill repeals Title II, “Teacher Quality Enhancement,” which includes:

The bill ends the TEACH Grant program in July 2018.

The bill phases out loan forgiveness programs that support those in the profession: the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, the Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers, and the Loan Forgiveness for Service in Areas of National Need.

See AACTE’s letter to Chairwoman Foxx and Subcommittee Chair Guthrie here.
See the letter led by the American Council on Education to Committee leadership here.

For more information on the PROSPER Act, review the following documents produced by the Education and the Workforce Republicans:

This measure is being marked up by the full Education and the Workforce Committee in December. It is unclear when the bill will be considered by the full House.

On the Senate side, Chairman Lamar Alexander of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions has stated that he intends to move on HEA reauthorization early in 2018.

Stay tuned through AACTE’s monthly Federal Update webinars, Twitter (@AACTE and @Koolbeck), and Ed Prep Matters. Be sure to register for the AACTE Action Alerts so that you can engage directly with your Members of Congress on key matters such as HEA reauthorization as opportunities arise.


The following is a list of HEA-related hearings from the 114th and 115th Congresses:

U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Senate

Last Updated December 2017

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