July 31st, 2012
With little fanfare, and even less press coverage, House and Senate panels recently took yet another look at college prices. On July 18, the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training held a hearing entitled “Keeping College Within Reach: Exploring State Efforts to Curb Costs.” This was followed on July 19 by a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing entitled “Making College Affordability a Priority: Promising Practices and Strategies.” While the former looked primarily at model state initiatives to contain college costs and the latter explored innovative institutional initiatives, both were generally positive, if subdued, looks at the issue. A flavor of the proceedings can be gleaned from from The Huffington Post’s coverage of the Senate discussion. The hearings may provide a glimpse into the focus of the relevant committees as they look ahead to reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA), which is due to occur next year. However, the last HEA reauthorization was several years overdue, and there are major pieces of expired education legislation, such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), in the cue for reauthorization ahead of HEA.