What is the Higher Education Act: Legislation That Determines How Schools Receive Federal Aid

In his 2013 State of the Union address, Obama called on Congress to reform the Higher Education Act, which determines how schools receive federal aid.

The Higher Education Act was passed in 1965 and intended “to strengthen the educational resources of our colleges and universities and to provide financial assistance for students in postsecondary and higher education.” In effect, it increased federal aid to universities, created scholarships, made low-interest loans available to students, and established a National Teacher Corps.

In his speech, Obama said:

Now, even with better high schools, most young people will need some higher education. It’s a simple fact: the more education you have, the more likely you are to have a job and work your way into the middle class. But today, skyrocketing costs price way too many young people out of a higher education, or saddle them with unsustainable debt.

Through tax credits, grants, and better loans, we have made college more affordable for millions of students and families over the last few years. But taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize the soaring cost of higher education. Colleges must do their part to keep costs down, and it’s our job to make sure they do. Tonight, I ask Congress to change the Higher Education Act, so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid. And tomorrow, my Administration will release a new “College Scorecard” that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.

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Michael McCutcheon

Michael was formerly special projects editor at Mic. Prior to that, he worked at the Open Society Foundations on electoral reform. A native Seattleite, he's still mad about the SuperSonics.

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