House Republicans Unveil Proposed Changes to The Higher Education Act—It Will Cost Students and Families Billions of Dollars

*Updated February 8, 2018

On February 6, 2018 the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released the cost of H.R.4508, the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act which found that cumulatively the bill will gut $58B from student aid. Below the statements from our partners on the general substance of the PROSPER Act we have added reactions to the news of how much this bill would cost students and working families.

On December 1, 2017, House Republicans led by the Chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-VA), introduced their bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA).

The reauthorization bill proposal makes several big changes to the HEA, but many of these changes, advocates argue, come at great expense to students and student loan borrowers.

Changes to the HEA under this proposal notably include:

  • Capping federally subsidized student loans for borrowers;
  • Ending the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program;
  • Eliminating campus based grant aid for low income students;
  • Repealing three major laws that protect students and taxpayers from predatory practices by for-profit colleges;
  • Repealing the College Transparency Act that provides students and their families with data about colleges and universities;
  • Repealing key enforcement provisions concerning campus sexual assault under the gender-equity law known as Title IX.

Full statements accessible via hyperlinks, where available.

American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU):

“While we appreciate the effort to address these changes, the proposed legislation represents a step backwards on access and quality because it eliminates important student benefits and undermines accountability. Students and the nation need more of both.”

American Federation of Teachers and United University Professions

“If rogue for-profit colleges and private lenders were to dream up a higher education bill that lines their own pockets at the expense of working- and middle-class students, this would be it…. We will fight it tooth and nail, and we will work with responsible members of Congress to design a real bill that puts students first, not unaccountable for-profit corporations.”

Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) Senior Policy Analyst Alexis Goldstein:

“[The] bill puts new and senseless limits on “borrower defense to repayment” a crucial protection for students defrauded by law-breaking institutions, including denying any relief to scammed students who did not individually apply for a discharge within three years of the misconduct by the school. The bill also takes a swipe at vulnerable borrowers by eliminating the current $0 per month payment that the lowest income borrowers qualify for in certain income-driven repayment plans.”

Center for American Progress Senior Director for Postsecondary Education Ben Miller

“The Higher Education Act should serve as a vehicle to expand the promise and opportunity of higher education to millions of Americans, especially to those that the system has historically left out. What our higher education system needs is a bill that addresses affordability, quality, and equity. The legislation proposed today falls far short of that goal.”

National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) Director Persis Yu:

“The Higher Education Bill introduced today by House Republicans would make it more difficult and more expensive for millions of Americans to repay their student loans. It would also demolish safeguards that prevent low-quality schools from using abusive and predatory tactics to line their pockets with taxpayer dollars at the expense of students working to build a better life for their families…. This bill would make it impossible for many low-income families to ever pay back their student loans by replacing the existing income-driven repayment plans with a much harsher plan.”

One Wisconsin Now Program Director Analiese Eicher:

“The provisions Trump is calling for will explode student loan debt that is already at crisis levels, break promises made to graduates who now work serving our communities in occupations like teaching, nursing and public safety and stifle campus free speech…This comes on top of other actions from his administration to give aid and comfort with law and policy changes to predatory for-profit colleges, abusive student loan debt collectors and campus rapists.”

The Education Trust President and CEO, and former U.S. Secretary of Education, John B. King Jr:

“The bill limits access for low-income students and makes college less affordable. It also fails to protect our most vulnerable students from predatory, fraudulent institutions. Though the bill acknowledges the importance of transparency, moves toward incentivizing completion, and begins to focus accreditation on student outcomes, it has significant flaws that must be addressed if we’re to ensure all students have the chance to succeed.”

 The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) Vice President Debbie Cochrane:

“These dangerous proposals increase risks and costs to students and overshadow the bill’s potentially positive steps to modernize the federal aid application, and provide better information for students choosing a college and making borrowing decisions.”

Young Invincibles Government Affairs Director Reid Setzer: 

“The House Republican plan is deeply out of step with the needs of students, who are taking on unprecedented student debt in order to get a degree that will prepare them for the jobs of the 21st century. Students have waited nearly a decade for meaningful reform to the Higher Education Act, during which the cost of college has continued to skyrocket, burying students under a collective $1.4 trillion in debt. This plan simply is not the systemic reform students and families are in dire need of.”

Post-CBO score release statements | February 8, 2018

The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) President James Kvaal:

“Today’s analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office lifts the curtain on the PROSPER Act’s misguided priorities. The bill would raise the costs of student debt, including charging enrolled students at least $19 billion more in interest and increasing income-based loan payments by at least $15 billion. Meanwhile, it allocates billions of dollars to low-quality colleges that don’t meet today’s accountability standards. On balance, theyouing in PROSPER Act would make college more expensive for millions of students each year, changes we recently detailed in an in-depth blog series: How the PROSPER Act Stacks up for Student Debt.”

Young Invincibles Government Affairs Director Reid Setzer:

It’s infuriating for students to watch Congress prioritize help for corporations and the wealthiest people in America while they continue to wait years for help achieving the American Dream. Congress should listen to these students when trying to reshape the law to better reflect their needs. If they did, they would know that the PROSPER Act is out of touch with the reality facing most students trying to pay for, work toward, and complete their degrees.”


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