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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Postsecondary Education Issues in the 113th Congress

David P. Smole
Coordinator, Specialist in Education Policy

The 113
th Congress may face an array of policy issues affecting postsecondary education. Many of these postsecondary education issues may be considered as part of efforts to reauthorize the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). However, postsecondary education issues also may emerge as part of other legislative efforts such as comprehensive immigration reform (CIR), reform of the federal tax code, or the annual appropriations process.

This report identifies and briefly examines several postsecondary education policy issue areas that may be of general interest. For each of these broader issue areas, the report provides a brief background summary and an introduction to and discussion of various aspects of the issue. Varied policy options are also identified for further consideration. The following postsecondary education issue areas are examined in this report. 

College costs and prices.
What policy approaches are available that may help address concerns about ongoing increases in postsecondary education costs and the escalating prices colleges charge for tuition and fees? 

The Federal Pell Grant program.
What options might be considered to help ensure sustained funding for the Pell Grant program at current or other levels deemed to be adequate? Should changes be made to Pell Grant eligibility or award criteria to contain costs or otherwise adjust the targeting of aid? 

Federal student loans.
Are student loan terms and conditions and loan subsidy rates well aligned with program aims? Should policy options be considered that would affect the availability of loans, borrowing limits, interest rates, repayment relief, or the role of institutions of higher education in student borrowing? 

Student loans and personal bankruptcy.
Should all student loans continue to be excepted from discharge in bankruptcy, except in cases of undue hardship? What should constitute “undue hardship”? 

Noncitizens and federal student aid
. Should beneficiaries of comprehensive immigration reform legislation be granted eligibility to participate in HEA federal student aid programs? 

Postsecondary education tax benefits.
Are federal postsecondary education tax benefits appropriately targeted and effective in achieving their intended purposes? How do these benefits interact with traditional federal student aid? 

Institutional quality.
Should new institutional or programmatic eligibility requirements be considered to help ensure that recipients of federal student aid are obtaining a quality education from the institutions they attend? What would be appropriate standards for measuring or assessing institutional accountability for educational or student outcomes? 

College completion.
Are students completing college at desirable rates? Should new approaches be considered to further the aim of increasing college completion? 

Campus safety.
How might efforts to promote safety on college campuses be best supported while balancing the reporting and disclosure of campus safety information with the protection of student privacy?

Date of Report: November 7, 2013
Number of Pages: 31
Order Number: R43302
Price: $29.95

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