PROSPER Act moves forward in the House

By Katie Brown, December 13, 2017

Update: The House Committee on Education and the Workforce marked up and passed the PROSPER Act just before midnight on December 12, 2017, by a party-line vote of 23-17. A little over 60 amendments were offered—most of them by Democrats—and under 20 were incorporated into the final bill.

Approved Amendments:

  • Representative Ron Estes (R-KS) introduced an amendment that would allow institutions to use a portion of their federal work-study dollars to identify and expand opportunities for apprenticeships. The amendment passed by a party-line vote of 22-17. Democrats opposed the measure because it would not require the apprenticeships to be registered with the federal government. Notably, Rep. Bonamici (D-OR) said she would have preferred to consider an amendment that contained language from the bipartisan PARTNERS Act—a work-based learning bill she introduced with Rep. Ferguson (R-GA). NSC has been a vocal supporter of PARTNERS.
  • Representative Glenn Grothman (R-WI) introduced an amendment that would modify the definition of “competency” in the underlying bill and streamline the accreditation review of Competency-Based Education (CBE) programs. The amendment passed by a party-line vote of 22-17. Democrats opposed the measure due to a lack of quality assurance measures.

Failed Amendments of note:

  • Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) introduced an amendment that would have inserted the text of the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act (H.R. 2451) into the PROSPER Act. H.R. 2451, introduced by Senate and House Democrats in May, contains many of NSC’s priorities for HEA reauthorization and would expand access to Pell grants in several ways, including by expanding Pell to short-term programs in language that is consistent with the bipartisan Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act (S.206). The amendment failed by a party-line vote.

The PROSPER Act, in its current form, extends Pell eligibility to short-term programs that are at least 300 clock hours of instruction over 10 weeks but includes no employer engagement to ensure that these programs are aligned with industry needs. Several organizations, including Higher Learning Advocates and AdvanceCTE joined NSC in members of the House and Senate to advocate for the inclusion of JOBS Act language in any final HEA reauthorization.

  • Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) offered an amendment that would have included the text of the College Transparency Act (H.R. 2434) and overturned the student unit record ban. Despite the fact that the CTA is bipartisan in both the House and Senate and enjoys the support of multiple higher education stakeholders, the amendment failed by a party line vote.
  • Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) offered and withdrew an amendment that he dubbed the “Know Before You Go” amendment. The measure would have required the Commissioner of Education Statistics to create a new higher education data system using secure multiparty computation technologies that institutions of higher education as well as the Secretaries of the Treasury, Defense, and Veterans Affairs and the Commissioner of Social Security are required to submit individual-level data into. This amendment marks yet another push to improve data systems in Higher Education. It was not considered.
  • Rep. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Espaillot (D-NY) offered amendments in support of DREAMers. Rep. Grijalva’s amendment would have inserted the text of the bipartisan DREAM Act (H.R. 3440) into the PROSPER Act, while Rep. Espaillot’s amendment would have made DREAMer students eligible for federal student aid. Both amendments failed by party-line votes.