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Published in Print: December 3, 2003, as Borrowing, Spending, Teaching

Borrowing, Spending, Teaching

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In their effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act of 1965, congressional lawmakers so far have explored numerous issues of interest to K-12 education, including those that would affect aspiring teachers and college-bound students. Here are some highlights:

College costs: Democrats and Republicans have proposed markedly different approaches to reining in rising college tuition. One Republican bill would impose federal penalties on colleges and universities that continue to increase tuition by more than twice the rate of inflation. Democrats, by contrast, back plans to penalize states that reduce spending on higher education, by making them ineligible for some forms of federal financial aid and tax relief.

Teacher quality: A GOP-backed bill would impose stricter requirements on states and teacher colleges in how they report on aspiring teachers' passing rates on certification tests. That bill, which already has passed the House, would encourage the awarding of federal grant money to states that promote innovative teacher-training programs, such as charter colleges of education.

Teacher recruitment: A Republican bill would increase the amount of federal student-loan forgiveness for teachers working in high-need subjects in Title I schools. Another GOP-backed measure would give graduate students seeking to become faculty members in teacher colleges priority access to certain federal grants. Both bills have passed the House with bipartisan support.

Student financial aid: Democrats have proposed several changes aimed at reducing the costs of student borrowing. They include eliminating origination fees charged students when they take out subsidized federal loans; giving students the option of refinancing their loans into single, fixed-rate loans; closing loopholes with a high rate of return on student loans; and raising the maximum Pell Grant award. Republicans have questioned the costs of those proposals.

SOURCE: Education Week research

Vol. 23, Issue 14, Page 24

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