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.
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.
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