While presidential candidates debate the pros and cons of their plans for education, the chances that Congress will reauthorize the Higher Education Act in 2016 are moving from slim to none as each day passes. The law that was passed in 2008 was supposed to expire in 2014, but has continued through automatic extensions or other congressional action.
Most observers see a comprehensive rewrite of HEA as a longshot during a presidential election year. In addition, it’s thought that any new administration will not have reauthorization high on its list of legislative priorities once it takes office next January, according to a report in Inside Higher Ed.
“I don’t see any real possibility of the House and Senate passing two bills, reconciling them together, and sending something to the president,” said Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. “The better question is: Will we actually see bills introduced in the committees? That, to me, would be progress.”
While there is some hope among experts that lawmakers may still be able to pass smaller bills this year, many areas of disagreement remain and must be worked out. Even in an area such as financial aid simplification, getting a bill in front of the House or Senate will not be easy despite bipartisan support.
“I do think we’ll see some legislative language and more people showing their cards,” Draeger said. “At least then we’ll have something we can work with and react to.”