After a fourteen hour committee session and a vote that split down party lines, House Republicans are ready to move forward on their draft of the PROSPER act, the Republican revamp of the Higher Education Act.
The reworked law, which would effectively replace the Higher Education Act on the books, aims to streamline student aid, promoting alternative post-secondary programs, and cutting a number of regulations currently in place. Perhaps most significant, the bill whittles down the monstrous number of individual loans down to one loan, one grant, and one work-study program per student, a policy shift many years in the waiting from both sides of the aisle. It will also expand loan coverage to apprenticeship programs and other types of skills-training, in an effort to alleviate the “skills gap” in the American labor force.
The bill, however, comes with a slew of criticisms from the Democrats, who voted unanimously in committee against it. Chief among them is the rolling back of Obama-era regulations which looked to stifle predatory lending practices by for-profit colleges, and the repeal of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which forgives student debt for those who take a number of public-benefit careers after schooling. There are also repeals of regulations which standardize the value of a credit hour, another regulation that came to light after numerous scandals in the for-profit college market.
Despite a House majority, the bill may come under fire from Republicans in rural districts, whose students will be more strongly impacted.