On August 14, 2008, ten years since its last reauthorization, President Bush signed into law the Higher Education Act (H.R. 4137). The law was originally set to expire in 2003, but Congress has passed 16 short-term extensions in the past four years.
In addition to rising tuition, students and their families face an overly complex federal student aid application process and a student loan industry that’s caught up in conflicts of interest and troubled lending practices. In response to this, the House and Senate approved a five-year reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in early August. The House’s vote was 380 to 49; the Senate’s was 83 to 8. The bill will nearly double the maximum amount of Pell Grants by 2014 and will require the Education Department to collect and publish better data on tuition costs at universities and colleges.