Congress approves education bill
Though the Higher Education Opportunity Act still awaits President Bush’s approval, students can keep their fingers crossed for a less daunting financial aid process as the bill, calling for greater loan transparency and increased federal aid, met Congress’ approval Thursday with an overwhelming majority.
The House approved the bill with a 380 to 49 vote and the Senate voted 83 to 8 in favor of the bill, The New York Times reported.
In its entirety, the bill would set into motion increased oversight by the government of institutions of higher education in which it will monitor budgetary shifts from tuition increases to private loan incentives and endowments granted the universities.
To ease students’ financial hardships when dealing with the cost of higher education, the legislation calls for colleges and universities with the largest percentage tuition increases to justify their tuition costs to the secretary of education.
Should the bill pass, universities and private loan and federal loan lenders will also be subject to steadfast rules, which will prohibit any gifts or revenue-sharing incentives among the entities.
The bill would also set into place a monitoring system for university endowments, which U.S. Comptroller General Gene Godaro would study and report on the amounts, uses and purposes of endowments incurred by each university.
To ensure a less cumbersome financial aid process, the bill would implement a simplified, two-page Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the FAFSA-EZ form, and the extension of the Pell grant to be available throughout the academic year for eligible students.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act will also force textbook publishers to disclose pricing information well before the start of classes so students can make informed decisions on textbook purchases and would require publishers to sell unpackaged versions of every textbook.