Phi Beta Cons

In Congress, Much Ado About Nothing

Members of the U.S. House and Senate have filed a flurry of bills related to higher education. The proposed legislation presents various solutions to the problems of high cost and uneven quality in American colleges and universities.

Stephanie Keaveney looked at the proposals—and their chances of success—in today’s article for the Pope Center.

Six bills focus on student aid and access, none with strong chances of passage, according to Keaveney.

Two bills, one each in the House and the Senate, purport to control college costs. In reality, they simply shift the burden of paying tuition from students to taxpayers.

Bills have also been filed to amend FERPA, simplify university compliance, and support academic freedom.

None of the bills are expected to pass. Keaveney writes:

Despite an abundance of proposals and countless hearings, Congress has only passed one bill related to higher education since it convened in January 2015: the Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2015 which, despite its name, phases out the Perkins loan program. The lack of movement isn’t abnormal for Congress; overall, only 3 percent of bills are ever signed into law.

You can read Keaveney’s full description of the bills and her analysis of the biggest debates in Congress here.

Jenna A. RobinsonJenna Ashley Robinson is the president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. Before becoming president, she was the center's director of outreach. She was previously the ...


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