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National ‘Road Map’ Targets Higher Education’s 10 Most Critical Issues

National ‘Road Map’ Targets Higher Education’s 10 Most Critical Issues


A new nonpartisan guide aimed at making it easier for legislators and interested constituents to understand higher education’s most pressing issues has come out just as Congress is preparing to vote on the Higher Education Reauthorization Act, scheduled for this fall.

“Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, Issues and Options,” evaluates 10 critical HEA policy issues, pinpointing options for change and weighing the resulting trade-offs. Six of the issues addressed by the guide involve barriers to access and persistence.

Between 2000 and 2015, the college-age population will increase by 2.6 million (16 percent), 80 percent of which will be minorities, and nearly half Latino. These populations, says the guide, historically suffer most from financial, academic, and cultural barriers to higher education, and “policy steps will need to be taken … if this country is to meet its future workforce needs.”

Some of the key questions the guide explores are:

Are there viable federal options for controlling college costs? How can the federal government overcome financial, cultural and academic barriers to college access for so many? What reforms are needed for loan and grant programs to function as they were meant to? How can the HEA connect with the No Child Left Behind Act to deal with poor K-12 academic preparation? How will policy decisions enhance quality, address accountability, distance learning, etc.?

The guide also addresses federal options for controlling the cost of higher education.

“How Congress responds to these critical policy issues will impact virtually all aspects of American society for the next decade or more,” says Thomas Wolanin, senior associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, lead analyst and editor of the report.

Copies of the report are available online at .

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