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), Sen. Bob Casey and Sen. Chris Coons reintroduced EPRA in April 2019 (S. 969).

Reauthorization in the 116th Congress Begins!

The 116th Congress began in January 2019.  The most significant shift was the Democrats taking the Majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and therefore they now chair all committees and subcommittees.  In addition, we start with all new legislation – that is, any bill from the previous Congress that a Member of Congress wants to act on in the 116th must be reintroduced.

Education leaders in both the House and Senate have indicated a desire to complete the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in the 116th Congress.  Both bodies have conducted hearings; however, the Senate has an intense timeline to get to a bill.  Leaders of the Senate HELP Committee are currently working to draft a bipartisan bill with hopes of putting it forward in the summer of 2019.  Deliberations about possible changes to Title II, loan forgiveness programs that teachers can utilize, and TEACH grants are underway.

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.

Hearings in the 116th Congress

The following is a list of Higher Education Act related hearings in the 116th Congress:

U.S. House of Representatives

April 3, 2019: “Strengthening Accountability in Higher Education to Better Serve Students and Taxpayers

March 13, 2019: “The Cost of College: Student Centered Reforms to Bring Higher Education Within Reach

U.S. Senate

April 10, 2019: “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Strengthening Accountability to Protect Students and Taxpayers

April 2, 2019: “Reauthorizing HEA: Addressing Campus Sexual Assault and Ensuring Student Safety and Rights” https://www.help.senate.gov/hearings/reauthorizing-hea-addressing-campus-sexual-assault-and-ensuring-student-safety-and-rights

March 12, 2019: “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Simplifying the FAFSA and Reducing the Burden of Verification

Last Updated May 2019

Staff Contact: Ward Cummings