News Release from AASCU

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 2008-08-01

Contact: Jennifer Herrera (202) 478-4665

AASCU CONGRATULATES CONGRESS ON HEA REAUTHORIZATION

New Legislation Advances Several AASCU-Advocated Positions

Washington, D.C. – The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) commends and congratulates Congress for passing the newly approved reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

“This legislation is a positive acknowledgement that higher education is striving to answer the national imperative for accountability and transparency,” says AASCU President Constantine D. Curris.

The bipartisan effort, five years in the making and 10 years since the last reauthorization of the HEA, brings several key changes to current law. These include numerous AASCU-supported and advocated positions, particularly the year-round Pell Grant, a State Maintenance of Effort provision, improved student loan counseling requirements, affirmation of institutional and accrediting body autonomy in the development of academic standards, increased investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions, and new institutional grant programs to strengthen college access – including a grant program for rural colleges.

The bill also contains a significant number of new reporting measures, many of which are aligned with AASCU’s Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA), a program designed to provide consistent, comparable and transparent institutional information. AASCU finds these measures particularly agreeable, as the organization has worked diligently with Congress to balance bipartisan calls for more accountability with reasonable institutional burden.

In late July, AASCU sent a letter to Congress on behalf of its membership urging the passage of the Higher Education Opportunity Act. However, some provisions in the 1000-plus page bill are of concern to AASCU, particularly the bill’s excessive reporting requirements—which could be a potentially arduous burden to campuses—and the bill’s private loan certification provisions. The association will continue to follow the negotiated rule-making and implementation of the new law to mitigate any unintended consequences. AASCU plans to release a detailed summary of concerns and supported provisions in the near future.

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AASCU is the leadership association of 420 public colleges and universities Delivering America’s Promise through their common commitments to access, affordability and educational opportunity. Enrolling more than 3 million students, these institutions fulfill the expectations of a public university by working for the public good through education, stewardship and engagement, thereby improving the lives of people in their community, their region and their state.