Any proposal should hold to the spirit of the original HEA which sought to open the doors of higher education to all. This proposition connotes meaningful access and opportunity to quality higher education programs, not simply the creation of more options or the provision of unduly burdensome loans. Despite this goal, our current system is at risk of curtailing the access it first envisioned. Thus, any reauthorization should focus on the outcomes for those who have been traditionally shut out of higher education: low-income students and students of color. To do this, any HEA reauthorization should provide meaningful access through ensuring that students can minimize their student debt, that their student debt repayment is manageable, and ensuring that the institutional benefactors of federal aid are providing quality educational services in exchange for the taxpayer and student’s investment. Specifically, CRL urges this Committee to only propose and pass legislation that includes the following:
- Preservation and streamlining of income-based repayment plans and loan forgiveness;
- Increased and indexed low-income grant aid (PELL, TEACH, FSEOG);
- Increased aid and support for Title III and Title V Schools;
- Strong accountability measures for predatory for-profit institutions, and;
- Statutory requirements to ensure loan servicers meet basic consumer protection standards.