H.E.A. Conferees Resolve Some Differences; Others Remain
Conferees last week began working to reconcile House and Senate bills reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, ratifying agreements that had been crafted by aides over the last several weeks but leaving the most controversial issue to be resolved when the conference continues this week.
The bulk of that discussion is likely to concern a House provision that would create a pilot direct-loan program, under which the federal government would make a total of$500 million in loans directly to students via institutions.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, said a majority of the conferees would accept a direct-loan provision similar to the one the House offered, but they want to discuss the size of the program.
Conferees also hinted that they will pursue negotiations with the Bush Administration, which has threatened a veto of any bill that includes a direct-loan program.
''The President is hopeful that there's some sort of resolution so he can support this part of the bill," said Representative Tom Coleman of Missouri , the ranking Republican on the House Postsecondary Education Subcommittee.
Representative William D. Ford, the Michigan Democrat who chairs both the subcommittee and the full Education and Labor Committee, asked Mr. Coleman to seek a compromise plan from the Administration.
"The Administration has put nothing on the table," Mr. Ford said. "I have nothing to deal with."
Pell Grant Compromise
The direct-loan plan is the most significant issue on which the staff negotiations did not produce agreement. But members said they also want to discuss several items that were included in the recommendations, including usage of a single federal financial- aid form and a proposed compromise on the maximum authorized level for Pell Grants.
Aides proposed increasing the authorized maximum grant to $3,700. That is the amount requested by the President, and represents a compromise between the House and Senate. The conferees approved the bulk of the staff recommendations by a voice vote with no discussion.
Those provisions include:
- A new program of matching grants to states to support early-intervention programs that encourage students to attend college and aid programs for participating students.
- A new program to support training for teachers, counselors, and principals in assisting students' transition from high school to college.
- Creation of a financial-aid data base and a toll-free information line, and for advertising aid availability.
- A plan to authorize $200 million in scholarships for Pell Grant recipients who meet academic criteria
- Allowing the Stafford Student Loan Program to offer unsubsidized loans to students.
- The creation of numerous new teacher-training initiatives, including a program of state grants to school districts and higher-education institutions, National Teacher Academies, a 'Teacher Corps to serve high need areas, an alternative certification program, and initiatives to encourage minorities and school paraprofessionals to become teachers.
- Authorization of a total of $20 million between fiscal 1993 and 1996 for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
Vol. 11, Issue 39, Page 30Published in Print: June 17, 1992, as H.E.A. Conferees Resolve Some Differences; Others Remain