Press Releases

Lee, DeSantis Introduce Bill to Expand Higher Education Opportunities

HERO Act makes post-secondary education more affordable and accessible

Mar 04 2015

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced a bill that expands higher education opportunities for low-income and middle-class students and families, by opening up the federal accreditation system to state-based alternatives. The Higher Education Reform and Opportunity (HERO) Act would allow all 50 states and the District of Columbia to develop their own systems of accrediting educational institutions, curricula, apprenticeships, job-training programs, and even individual courses, all of which would be eligible to receive federal student loan money.

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) introduced companion legislation, which currently has twenty-five co-sponsors. There are currently four co-sponsors in the Senate: Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), and David Vitter (R-LA).

“The Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act will not only make the higher education more affordable – it will also empower students to customize their own education and gain the specific skills they need to compete in today’s economy on a schedule that works for them,” Sen. Lee said. “Today’s higher education system is failing to keep up with students’ increasingly specialized educational needs and the demands of a highly competitive job market. The HERO Act will open the floodgates of innovation, providing greater choice, access, and opportunity for America’s students.”

“The acquisition of advanced knowledge and skills is more important than ever for economic opportunity, and many students would benefit from alternatives to traditional brick-and-ivy institutions, such as training programs, vocational schools, and apprenticeships,” said Rep. DeSantis. “By authorizing states to experiment with different approaches to accreditation, the HERO Act will allow our nation’s students to pursue the skills and education that they need to succeed in their chosen fields.”

The Senate co-sponsors issued the following statements on the HERO Act:

“By reforming our rigid accreditation model to allow greater flexibility, the HERO Act will provide students with increased educational opportunities and give them more control and choice over their individual education needs,” said Sen. Crapo. “It is long past time we eliminate the heavy hand of the federal government in education decisions that are best made on a local level.”

“America's students deserve better options and opportunities,” said Sen. Cruz. “The Department of Education's accreditation process needs to be reformed to allow more competition in higher education that will create more affordable choices for students, whether it's for a parent who wishes to attend night school, a recent high-school graduate who is interested in vocational training, or a professional seeking a graduate degree. I applaud Sen. Lee for his steadfast commitment to education and am proud to cosponsor this bill with him.”

“Students should be empowered to pursue educational opportunities that best fit their unique interests and career goals,” Sen. Daines stated. “The HERO Act encourages innovation in education while promoting accountability and results. By expanding access and opportunities for all students, we can ensure that future generations are fully prepared to enter the workforce and follow their career pursuits.”

“Education at all levels including higher education is best when decisions are made closest to the student – and that includes providing affordable choices for students,” Sen. Vitter said. “When higher education institutions can partner students with businesses and workforce training opportunities, everyone wins. This bill creates an important level of flexibility for states as well as more access and affordable choices for students.”