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From Capitol to Campus

Throughout the 110th Congress, which began in January 2007 and will end sometime around the November 2008 elections, Congress has been making steady progress in addressing higher education issues.

Initially slated to reauthorize the Higher Education Act in 2004, the 110th Congress resolved to finally complete the task, and it is well on its way. At the outset of the session, the House kept its commitment to make college more affordable by passing a reduction in student loan interest rates. The Senate followed suit and what resulted was a package of provisions that truly addresses students’ financial needs for higher education for the first time in many years.

With all this done, however, the Congress still had not fully addressed the required reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The Senate passed a version of the reauthorization during the summer and the House wrote an extensive bill in the fall and passed it through Committee in November. This leaves House floor action and a conference committee ahead, and there is a movement afoot to get it all done by the March 31, 2008 expiration of the current extension of the HEA.

NEA remains committed to several key priorities in the HEA reauthorization, including defeating the so-called “academic bill of rights” language in the Senate bill and ensuring that the interests of public postsecondary institutions are addressed in the final legislation.

There remains hope to get this reauthorization finished by March 31 in a form that NEA can support. Please visit the NEA Legislative Action Center to keep abreast of developments and make your voice heard.

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