Last week, National Skills Coalition submitted a list of recommendations for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA)to the House Committee on Education & the Workforce.
In April, full committee Chairman Kline (R-MN), Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA), Higher Education and Workforce Training subcommittee Chairwoman Foxx (R-NC) and subcommittee Ranking Member Hinojosa (D-TX) wrote to interested stakeholders requesting input on potential policy changes and amendments to improve upon current law.
NSC recommended that while crafting HEA reauthorization legislation, the committee should pay particular attention to four key issues:
- Tuition assistance and other financial aid for nontraditional students –expanding access to Pell grants and other federal tuition assistance programs, including by: restoring the “ability-to-benefit” provisions and year-round Pell grants; increasing income protection allowances for working adults; and easing the ability to use Pell for non-credit or other short-term programs, or to attend less-than-half-time.
- Better data collection and reporting through inclusive, aligned and market relevant data systems – expanding postsecondary data systems to include all students and pathways; count industry-recognized credentials as well as degrees; assess employment outcomes for all participants by ensuring data systems are able to match student records to employment and wage records across all education and workforce programs; expanding use of labor market information; and ensuring appropriate data access and use.
- Strengthening partnerships between postsecondary education institutions and employers and industries – ensuring designated funding and support is made available for industry or sector partnerships between employers, postsecondary education institutions, and other key stakeholders.
- Improving remedial and adult basic education (ABE) programs associated with postsecondary education – providing new support for career pathway models, bridge programs integrated or contextualized instruction, and other learning models designed to help students persist and succeed in postsecondary education.
The Higher Education Act, last authorized in 2008, will expire at the end of 2013. The committee has already disposed of two major pieces of reauthorization legislation this year – the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – so it seems likely that HEA could be next in the queue. However, at this point the committee has not given a specific timeline for reauthorization.
NSC will continue to weigh in with policymakers on HEA reauthorization when appropriate, and will provide updates to the field as reauthorization moves forward.