The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), today approved two pieces of legislation designed to address a pair of problems facing the nation's higher education system.
The Smarter Solutions for Students Act (H.R. 1911), introduced by Chairman Kline and Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) will address the upcoming student loan interest rate cliff scheduled for July 1, 2013 by returning all federal student loans (except Perkins loans) to market-based interest rates. H.R. 1911 was approved with bipartisan support.
Rep. Luke Messer's (R-IN) Improving Postsecondary Education Data for Students Act (H.R. 1949), which passed the committee by voice vote, will direct the Department of Education to explore opportunities to enhance higher education transparency.
"The committee has taken an important step forward in the fight to strengthen the nation's higher education system. Not only have we approved a proposal that will help students access the information they need to choose the right college, we also advanced legislation based on the president's own proposal to tie student loan interest rates back to the free market," said Chairman Kline. "My colleagues and I have been working to get politicians out of the business of setting student loan interest rates for years, and I am pleased the Smarter Solutions for Students Act received bipartisan support today. I want to thank Representatives Foxx and Messer for their leadership on these initiatives, and I look forward to bringing the legislation to the House floor for a vote in the coming days."
"Student borrowers shouldn't have to ride the roller coaster of political largesse wondering every year whether Congress will intervene in time to adjust their rates," Rep. Foxx said. "The Smarter Solutions for Students Act puts an end to the temporary fixes and campaign promises that have failed to strengthen our nation's student loan system -- and allows students to take advantage of low interest rates when available while protecting them in high interest rate environments with a reasonable cap. This legislation offers predictability, simplicity, and will ensure interest rates are immediately in line with the free market-- a need particularly acute in today's jobless economy."
"For most folks, choosing a college is one of the biggest decisions of their life," said Rep. Messer. "Students and families need information to help them make good choices, but current transparency initiatives are often too hard to understand. We need to get rid of unnecessary data that just creates confusion and more burdensome reporting requirements for institutions. The Improving Postsecondary Education Data for Students Act will inform the committee's efforts to reauthorize the nation's higher education law, and help Congress better understand the information students and families need when selecting a college. I am pleased the bill received strong bipartisan support in committee and hope to see the same in a vote before the full House."
To read opening statements, review amendments, or watch an archived webcast of today's markup, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/markups.