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McKeon touts new law to address college

President Bush signs bill into law

Posted: August 14, 2008 9:02 p.m.
Updated: October 16, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon, the senior Republican on the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee, Thursday heralded enactment of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, the first comprehensive renewal of federal higher education programs in a decade.

The bill was given final approval by Congress on July 31 and was signed into law Thursday by President George W. Bush.

"As college students all across the country prepare to return to campus, our nation's higher education system is set to begin a transformation that will make it more accessible, affordable, and accountable to consumers," said McKeon, R-Santa Clarita. "By putting the interests of students first, we have made great progress toward a higher education system that will continue to thrive today and into the future."

The Higher Education Opportunity Act includes key reforms to address the college cost crisis, make colleges and universities more transparent, and update programs to reflect the needs of a changing student population. Specifically, the new law:

n Holds colleges and universities accountable for cost increases and makes information about higher education pricing and financial aid more readily available to students and families
n Uses "sunshine and transparency" to give consumers more information about basic institutional characteristics so students can make informed higher education choices
n Updates obsolete federal rules that had discriminated against students at proprietary institutions
n Makes transfer of credit policies public to allow greater college credit mobility
n Strengthens financial aid opportunities for students through steps such as new year-round Pell grant availability and targeted loan forgiveness programs
n Simplifies the financial aid process by streamlining the application process for lower-income students and families and making more information available to students sooner in the college preparation process

"I began this process some seven years ago with an effort to cut red tape and update the Higher Education Act to better reflect the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century," said McKeon. "With enactment of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, we have taken important steps toward achieving that goal."


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