WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity (HERO) Act Tuesday, a bill that brings transparency, accountability, and competition to higher education.
“Too many young people today feel as though they have to choose between going into debt or not getting the education they need to get a good job. It doesn’t have to be that way,” Sen. Lee said. “The Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act would not only make the cost of higher education more affordable, but would also make it easier for students to customize their own education and gain the skills they need to compete in today’s economy.”
"Education policy should be dictated at the local and state levels, and not by an out of touch bureaucracy in Washington. Many students have aptitudes and career goals that do not require and are not enhanced by college," Congressman Rooney said. "Perhaps this is why only about one-half of college students today manage to graduate within six years. Higher education should respond to the needs of our economy and today’s job market. This legislation allows states to accredit innovative non-traditional programs like online courses, apprenticeships, or vocational schools to better prepare today’s students for the modern workforce."
The bill is divided into four parts. The first title allows states to create alternative accreditation systems that can accredit any institution that provides postsecondary education programs that can be applied to a degree, credential, or professional certification. This title would also give states with alternative accreditation systems the flexibility to determine clock hour and minimum program length requirements, allowing short-term workforce development programs and nontraditional educational providers to be eligible for federal student aid. The second title requires higher education institutions participating in federal student loan programs to publish relevant outcome information in a readily accessible format, giving students access to the information they need to make informed decisions about which institutions to attend.
The third title would simplify federal student loans into one option and the fourth title would create a new financial “skin-in-the-game” requirement for universities, rewarding them for each Pell Grant graduate, but requiring them to repay a percentage of the overall amount of loans made, taking into account loan default rates and the average national unemployment rate.
The HERO Act is being sponsored in the House of Representatives by Congressman Francis Rooney.