Senate, House Differ on Higher Ed Bills

June 27th, 2014


President Robert A. Brown attended the American Council on Education’s Board of Directors meeting on June 23.

Robert Stern of the School of Medicine testified before a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing entitled “State of Play: Brain Injuries and Diseases of Aging” on June 25.

Katharine Lusk of the Initiative on Cities attended the Summit on Working Families hosted by the White House on June 23.

Cameron Partridge of Marsh Chapel delivered a sermon at the National Cathedral on June 22.

Deborah Frank of the School of Medicine was appointed to the National Commission on Hunger by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

On Tuesday, chairmen of education committees on both sides of the Capitol released competing plans to renew the Higher Education Act, the law governing federal involvement in higher education. A white paper released by Republican leaders of the House Education and Workforce Committee focuses on streamlining the student financial aid process and reducing the regulatory burden on colleges. In contrast, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Democrats released a draft bill that calls for more accountability measures for universities and stronger consumer protections for student loan borrowers. A consolidated higher education measure is unlikely to progress this year, but the documents provide insight into future directions Congress may pursue.

Learn about the Senate bill 

Read the House white paper

The U.S. Senate took up the issue of campus sexual assault twice this week, starting with a Monday roundtable hosted by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) that looked at the intersection of campus administrative processes and the criminal justice system. The Senator plans to draft legislation addressing campus sexual assault later this summer. Separately, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing on the issue on Thursday, and witnesses discussed modifying the penalties colleges incur for being out of compliance with federal laws on sexual violence. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education released a new proposed rule which would require colleges to compile statistics for dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking in their annual security reports and implement prevention measures to combat sexual violence. Stakeholders can comment on the proposed rule through July 21, and the Department will issue a final rule by November 1.

Learn about the Senate hearing

The House Committee on Ways and Means voted to advance the Student and Family Tax Simplification Act (H.R. 3393), which would streamline current student tax benefits into one consolidated credit, on Thursday. Universities expressed support for the concept of simplification, but opposed provisions that would limit eligibility to fewer students and eliminate the benefit for graduate students. Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on student tax breaks and their role in minimizing student debt on June 24.  Much of the discussion focused on ways to better inform families of the tax options available to assist in paying for college.

Read the House bill