PROSPER Bill Moves Ahead Quickly Despite Concerns Over Higher Education
Changes to the federal law which oversees higher education may be imminent as House Republicans move forward with their plans to overhaul key aspects of it. Critics of the plan say the House Republicans should have hearings and take more time to review the matter and consider input before moving forward with it.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce was eyeing changes this week to the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform Act (PROSPER Act). Almost 60 amendments were expected to be considered for that act, which was spearheaded by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) and Chairman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.). Estimates says the bill revisal may take two days.
The Stakes Are High
Moving through with this legislation would pave the way for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965. That act has been virtually unchanged for almost 10 years.
But as House Republicans work at breakneck speed to mark up their changes, watchdogs of the education world, including student and university organizations, would like to see a slower pace in order to allow certain consequences to be fully considered. The 542-page bill has only been available for two weeks of review.
Some of the items being discussed for potential revisal include finances and performance accountability for universities and colleges.
Although the bill has been released for two weeks, Republicans have added some last-minute provisions, including ones related to the overseeing of sororities and fraternities.
Fans of the legislation have vocally applauded it for what it does to make the financial aid application process easier and how it includes provisions to encourage students to graduate in four years instead of adding extra years.
What this bill will do to the cost of college education for lower-income students is one key worry critics have. Some of the provisions call for the demise of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and elimination of subsidized Stafford loans, where interest is paid during school.
How This May Affect Students Down the Road
No matter what happens with this bill, students everywhere can be certain about one thing. They’ll likely be paying on their student loans for years and possibly a couple decades unless they work hard to diligently chip away at the debt.
But while students currently have a chance at loan forgiveness, future students will not if this bill’s provisions are approved. This bill would do away with all loan forgiveness opportunities. In addition, it would increase each payment to 15 percent of a person’s incoming pay in one remaining Income-Driven Repayment plan.
While those provisions may seem to stack the deck against students who are paying off their loans, other provisions give them some protection. After paying into the ne IDR plan for 10 years, for example, interest no longer accrues.
Borrowers who opt for an income-based repayment option will no longer have the luxury of paying nothing each month on their student loan under this bill. It would ensure that borrowers in this situation would have to fork over a minimum of $25 per month.