Friday, February 8, 2008

H.R. 4137 "The College Opportunity and Affordability Act" moving through the House of Representatives

Yesterday, the House of Representatives began debate on H.R. 4137, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act. This legislation aims to reauthorize the Higher Education Act of 1965 and is a companion piece to the reauthorization bill the Senate that passed last summer.

This bill proposes the following provisions to benefit TRIO:
  • the creation of an appeals process that includes review by a second peer review panel;
  • expands TRIO grants from four to five years;
  • language directing the Secretary to consider the needs of students when reviewing TRIO grant applications;
  • language moving prior experience from being defined as regulatory language (by the Department of Education) to being defined by Congress (legislatively);
  • defines the primary purpose of any TRIO evaluation as "the identification of particular practices that further the achievement of the prior experience criteria" included in the bill and requires approval of the institution's IRB if a project is selected to participate in a TRIO evaluation;
  • allows branch campuses that were previously excluded to apply for grants;
  • includes language to expand the scope of the Veterans Upward Bound program to include federal reservists called to action on or after September 11, 2001, and expands the ability of older veterans to participate in the program;
  • expands TRIO services and makes secondary schools eligible to apply for TRIO programs;
  • expands eligibility to include "disconnected youth," including young people who are homeless, in foster care, and teen parents; and
  • eliminates the "Absolute Priority" requirements, including the evaluation of Upward Bound.

Let's keep this one on our collective Radar!

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