Advocacy Brief: Update on Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act
On February 7, the House of Representatives passed "The College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007" (H.R. 4137) to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) through 2012. H.R. 4137 contains several changes, new programs, and studies of importance to medical education.
In the area of student financial aid and loan forgiveness, the House bill provides:
- An increase in the annual Perkins loan limit for graduate/professional students from $6,000 to $8,000 and a corresponding increase in the aggregate Perkins loan limit for graduate/professional students from $40,000 to $60,000;
- A new $10,000 loan forgiveness program for "medical specialists" who have been accepted to, or currently participate in, an ACGME-accredited graduate medical education training program or fellowship that requires more than 5 years of total graduate medical training and has fewer U.S. medical school graduate applicants than the total number of positions available under these programs;
- A 6-month grace period for repayment of GradPLUS loans;
- Direction for the Department of Education to work with the Department of the Treasury to enhance the financial literacy of students at institutions of higher education through the development of initiatives, programs, and curricula;
- A requirement that institutions to certify private educational loans and to provide information on available federal alternatives; and
- The "student loan sunshine" language that addresses financial aid administrator-lender relationships.
The House bill also includes a Government Accountability Office study on education related indebtedness of medical school graduates. The Senate passed their version of the reauthorization bill in July 2007.
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