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From Capitol to Campus

After five years of deliberation, both the House and Senate finally passed the Higher Education Opportunity Act in July. The president signed the bill that reauthorizes the Higher Education Act on August 14.

Contained in the bill are new reporting requirements for institutions relative to cost and tuition. In addition, the bill authorizes increases in the purchasing power of the Pell Grant by raising the maximum award.

It also requires private student loan lenders to follow new rules meant to protect borrowers, simplifies the federal student aid application, places an emphasis on science, technology and math education programs, and significantly revamps Title II of the Higher Education Act—the title that addresses teacher preparation programs.

For the first time, the bill contains provisions requiring advance information on textbook pricing for students and ensuring that faculty have textbook pricing information when making purchasing decisions. Publishers also must provide pricing information on “unbundled” versions of every “bundled” textbook they sell.

The new law creates a program to facilitate college transfers, as well as programs to encourage public service careers and careers in math, science and critical foreign languages. On the down side, the so-called “academic bill of rights” language that NEA opposed because of its potential to compromise academic freedom is also included in the act.

Find out more about the Higher Education Act.

To learn more about college affordability, student debt, and what you can do about it, check out NEA’s new issue advocacy campaign, "Got Tuition?".

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