Last week, the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee voted to advance legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act – a law that’s most recent reauthorization expired in 2013. The 500+ page PROSPER Act, authored by Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), is intended to reform higher education by “promoting innovation, access, and completion; simplifying and improving student aid; empowering students and families to make informed decisions; and ensuring strong accountability and a limited federal role.” But like any bill that is early in the legislative process, the PROSPER Act is a blend of promising and concerning ideas that will require a long and meaningful conversation with diverse stakeholders to get this right for students.
Building on our recent Higher Education Act recommendations, KnowledgeWorks sent a letter to House Education and Workforce Committee leadership today in reaction to the PROSPER Act. We applaud the bill’s emphasis on promoting personalized pathways to postsecondary completion through competency education, employer-sponsored apprenticeship programs, and short-term certificates. Simultaneously, we express strong concerns for eliminating the federal role in teacher preparation, public service loan forgiveness, and a number of provisions that would negatively impact the ability of students, especially low-income students to pay for college.