COHEAO Submits Recommendations on Senate HEA Reauthorization Bill

September 2, 2014 · by COHEAO · Spark Notes

Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin recently released a Higher Education Act reauthorization discussion draft, the Higher Education Affordability Act (HEAA). Harkin asked for comments from interested parties. In COHEAO’s response, President Maria Livolsi noted the Federal Campus-Based programs align with Chairman Harkin and the Committee’s goals with HEA reauthorization–increasing affordability and helping struggling borrowers, simplifying the financial aid process, and strengthening accountability and improving transparency.

COHEAO’s letter explains our organization’s support for the Perkins Loan Program and highlights the impact it is had on millions of students.  The letter highlighted the favorable loan terms, particularly regarding Perkins Loan cancellations vs. Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and the individualized loan counseling that are stalwarts of this loan program.

It also reviews the current situation with outdated language relating to a Perkins Loan sunset.  Though the Department of Education has described this provision of HEA as “outmoded,” the language has resulted in significant confusion among the higher education and financial aid communities.  As such, COHEAO asked Congress to clarify that schools participating in the Perkins Loan Program should continue to lend their funds until the matter is addressed in this reauthorization of HEA.

In addition to reviewing the current situation with Perkins Loans and reiterating COHEAO’s support for the Campus-Based Programs, the letter put forward our Campus Flex proposal.  Campus Flex would provide additional flexibility for schools and clarity for students while recognizing the important role of the Campus Based Programs.  A brief description of the major components of the proposal is included below:

  • Authorize One Single Appropriation: Congress would provide campuses with one authorization for the three campus-based programs.
  • Retain Authorizing Language for Each Program: The individual characteristics and authorizing language for each of the campus-based programs would be maintained. However, the programs’ authorizing sections in three different Parts of Title IV of the Higher Education Act would be consolidated into one Part.
  • Permit Campuses to Determine the Allocation between Programs: Campus aid administrators would determine the distribution of appropriated funds among the three campus-based programs at their institution each academic year.
  • Allow Transfer of Interest Collections: Up to one-third of annual Perkins Loan interest collections could be transferred to FWS and/or FSEOG provided that the Campus Flex program receives an appropriation.
  • Reduce the Perkins Loan Grace Period: Perkins Loans would retain their current characteristics, except that the post-separation grace period would be reduced from nine months to six months to be consistent with other federal loan programs.

Click here for COHEAO’s letter to Chairman Harkin on HEAA.  If you have any questions or comments on this letter and other COHEAO initiatives for HEA reauthorization, please feel free to contact COHEAO Executive Director Harrison Wadsworth (hwadsworth@wpllc.net) or Associate Director Wes Huffman (whuffman@wpllc.net) at (202) 289-3910.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.