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A five-year extension of the Higher Education Act, which authorizes federal aid to postsecondary students and institutions, cleared the House Education and Labor Committee by a vote of 28 to 2 this month. It is expected to be considered next month by the full House.

The law expired this past September but was automatically renewed for one year.

The committee's package autho4rizes $10.8 billion in fiscal 1987; the current appropriation of about $9.3- billion is the largest single component of the Education Department's $18.7-billion budget.

The bill, HR 3700, would increase grant funds to poor students, establish a means test and tighter eligibility requirements for student loans, and provide incentives for students to enter the teaching profession.

The appropriation for grants to low-income students, known as Pell Grants, would increase from $3.9- billion to $4.5 billion. The maximum grant would rise next year to $2,300 or 60 percent of the student's college cost, whichever is less. The current maximum is $2,100 or 60 percent.

The bill, however, would cut funds for student loans and would attempt to limit eligibility by imposing a means test on all students and tightening the definition of an "independent" student.

The bill would also require high-school dropouts or those who fail to pass the General Educational Development (ged) examination to pass a test to show that they could benefit from federal aid. Currently, institutions make that determination.

The bill also provides about $132- million for colleges to train and recruit teachers, and it permits students who become teachers to defer loan repayments for up to five years after graduation.

Meanwhile, the Senate education subcommittee is completing its version of a reauthorization bill, which will be reported to the full Labor and Human Resources Committee.

Vol. 05, Issue 13

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