Higher Education Act of 1965

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Higher Education Act of 1965
Great Seal of the United States
Other short titles
  • Higher Education Facilities Act Amendment
  • National Defense Education Act Amendment
Long titleAn Act to strengthen the educational resources of our colleges and universities and to provide financial assistance for students in post-secondary and higher education.
Acronyms (colloquial)HEA, NTCA
NicknamesNational Teachers Corps Act
Enacted bythe 89th United States Congress
EffectiveNovember 8, 1965
Public law89-329
Statutes at Large79 Stat. 1219
Titles amended20 U.S.C.: Education
U.S.C. sections created20 U.S.C. ch. 28 § 1001 et seq.
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the House as H.R. 9567 by Edith Green (DOR)
  • Passed the House on August 26, 1965 (368-22)
  • Passed the Senate on September 2, 1965 (79-3)
  • Reported by the joint conference committee on October 20, 1965; agreed to by the House on October 20, 1965 (313-63) and by the Senate on October 20, 1965 (passed)
  • Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on November 8, 1965
Major amendments
No Child Left Behind Act
Education in the United States
Diploma icon.png Education portal
Flag of the United States.svg United States portal

The Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) (Pub.L. 89–329) was legislation signed into United States law on November 8, 1965, as part of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society domestic agenda. Johnson chose Texas State University (then called "Southwest Texas State College"), his alma mater, as the signing site.[1] The law was intended "to strengthen the educational resources of our colleges and universities and to provide financial assistance for students in postsecondary and higher education". It increased federal money given to universities, created scholarships, gave low-interest loans for students, and established a National Teachers Corps. The "financial assistance for students" is covered in Title IV of the HEA.

The Higher Education Act of 1965 was reauthorized in 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1986, 1992, 1998, and 2008. Current authorization for the programs in the Higher Education Act expired at the end of 2013, but has been extended through 2014 while Congress prepares changes and amendments. Before each re-authorization, Congress amends additional programs, changes the language and policies of existing programs, or makes other changes.

1965 Act[edit]

In January 1965, Representative Edith Green of Oregon introduced H. R. 3220 as a bill to "strengthen the educational resources of our colleges and universities and to provide financial assistance for students in postsecondary education."[2] Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon introduced the Senate version of the bill, S. 600. The bills sought to create an advisor council to review teacher training programs and to create a National Teacher Corps, which would recruit teachers to serve in low-income areas and train teachers through internships. Other provisions of the bills included financial aid, scholarships, work study, and library enhancements. Throughout 1965 numerous hearings were held by Special Subcommittee on Education and the Education Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare held numerous hearings. Based on the recommendations of University administrators, educators and student aid officers, a new bill was introduced: H. R. 9567. It was passed by the House of Representatives on August 26 and the Senate passed the bill on September 2.[2]

In signing the Higher Education Act of 1965 into law, President Johnson said that the act, along with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as "keystones of the great, fabulous 89th Congress" that would spread "the roots of change and reform" throughout the nation.[2]


The act contains eight sections or titles.

  • Title I, General Provisions;
  • Title II, Teacher Quality Enhancement;
  • Title III, Strengthening Institutions;
  • Title IV, Student Assistance;
  • Title V, Developing Institutions;
  • Title VI, International Education Programs;
  • Title VII, Graduate and Postsecondary Improvement Programs; and
  • Title VIII,Additional Programs.[3]

Changes in 1998[edit]

The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) was first authorized under the Higher Education Amendments of 1998. Also in the amendments of 1998 is the Aid Elimination Provision, which prevents students with drug charges from receiving federal aid for colleges and universities. This is where question 31 on the FAFSA forms originates. The question asks whether the student has ever been convicted of a drug crime while receiving federal financial aid. This statutory provision was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in the face of a constitutional challenge by the ACLU in the case of Students for Sensible Drug Policy v. Spellings.[4]

The amendments also included a provision [HEA Section 487(a)(23)] requiring universities to make a good faith effort to encourage voter registration of students on their campuses. This requirement applies only to institutions located in states that require voter registration prior to election day and do not allow registration the day of the election. Institutions receive registration forms from the state after requesting them at least 120 days prior to the voter registration deadline, and must make them "widely available" to students.[5]

Changes in 2003[edit]

In 2003, much of the Higher Education Act was set to expire. As a result, a number of minority groups united to ask for certain changes. Calling themselves the Alliance for Equity in Higher Education, this group was made up of "the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, an advocacy group for historically black colleges and universities, [and they] presented their joint recommendations for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act."[6] The Alliance aimed to help minority students enter fields where they seemed to be underrepresented and to give incentives to minorities to enter these programs. These incentives included more lenience on loan collection and full government funding for minority education. The Alliance also called for the government to create funding for students in graduate programs of universities serving the minority population.[6]

Even though the Alliance's request to change the Higher Education Act was heard, significant parts were denied. In 2003, the request for increasing the amount offered in a Pell Grant, to better cover a student's expenses, was denied by the Senate.[7] Still, other issues were corrected. There was a section passed, by the House, that did allow more funds to go to institutions, in order to keep them current; and a grace period for colleges asking for more loans was eliminated. So, if more funding were needed, minority institutions would not have to wait.[8]

2008 reauthorization[edit]

Student loans in the U.S.
Regulatory framework
Higher Education Act of 1965
U.S. Dept. of Education · FAFSA
Cost of attendance · Expected Family Contribution
Distribution channels
Federal Direct Student Loan Program
Federal Family Education Loan Program
Loan products
Perkins · Stafford
PLUS · Consolidation Loans
Private student loans

With the changes proposed in 2003, the actual Higher Education Act was not reauthorized. Instead, many of its sections were renewed, with little radical change. Numerous extensions have followed, with the most recent extension lasting through August 15, 2008. The Senate passed an HEA reauthorization bill in July 2007, as did the House of Representatives in February 2008.[9]

On August 14, 2008, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (Public Law 110-315) (HEOA) was enacted.[10] It reauthorized the amended version of the Higher Education Act of 1965.[11] This act made major changes in student loan discharges for disabled people. Previously, to qualify for a discharge, a disabled person could have no income. This has been changed to a no "substantial gainful activity" test, which is the same standard used by the Social Security Administration in determining eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The changes took effect on July 1, 2010.

Also included in the 2008 revision of the HEOA were provisions requiring action by U.S. colleges and universities to combat illegal file sharing.[12] Following significant lobbying by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the additions to the HEOA of 2008 included requirements that all U.S. colleges and universities (1) release and annual disclosure to students regarding copyright laws and associated campus policies, (2) a written plan, submitted to the Department of Education, to combat copyright abuse using one or more technology-based deterrents, and (3) an offer to students of alternatives to illegal downloading.[13] Significant controversy surrounded the inclusion of anti-P2P legislation into HEOA of 2008, resulting in a letter from a number of leaders in higher education.[14]

Additionally, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRA), a budget reconciliation bill signed into law in September 2007, made significant changes to federal financial aid programs included in HEA. In addition to increasing the maximum Pell Grant award and reducing interest rates on subsidized student loans, this bill capped loan repayment at 15% of an individual's discretionary income, raised the income protection allowance, enacted loan forgiveness for public servants in the Direct Loan program, set publicly funded student loans to fixed rates from variable rate loans, and took actions to address problematic practices in the lending industry. Most CCRA provisions took effect on October 1, 2007.[15]

The law for the first time also required post-secondary institutions be more transparent about costs and required the nearly 7,000 post-secondary institutions that receive federal financial aid funds (Title IV) to post net price calculators on their websites as well as security and copyright policies by October 29, 2011.

As defined in HEOA, the net price calculator's purpose is "to help current and prospective students, families, and other consumers estimate the individual net price of an institution of higher education for a student. The [net price] calculator shall be developed in a manner that enables current and prospective students, families, and consumers to determine an estimate of a current or prospective student’s individual net price at a particular institution."

The law defines "estimated net price" as the difference between an institution's average total Price of Attendance (the sum of tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and other expenses including personal expenses and transportation for a first-time, full-time undergraduate students who receive aid) and the institution's median need- and merit-based grant aid awarded.

Elise Miller, program director for the United States Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), stated the idea behind the requirement: "We just want to break down the myth of sticker price and get beyond it. This is to give students some indication that they will not [necessarily] be paying that full price."[16]

The template was developed based on the suggestions of the IPEDS' Technical Review Panel (TRP), which met on January 27–28, 2009, and included 58 individuals representing federal and state governments, post-secondary institutions from all sectors, association representatives, and template contractors. Mary Sapp, assistant vice president for planning and institutional research at the University of Miami, served as the panel's chair. She described the mandate's goal "to provide prospective and current undergraduate students with some insight into the difference between an institution's sticker price and the price they will end up paying".

The TRP faced the difficult challenge of creating one tool that could be used by a wide variety of institutions – from small, for-profit career schools to major research universities – while balancing simplicity for users.

To meet the requirement, post-secondary institutions may choose either a basic template developed by the U.S. Department of Education or an alternate net price calculator that offers at least the minimum elements required by law.

As part of its cost-transparency measures, HEOA of 2008 requires also on the College Navigator Web site a report giving the average institutional net price of attendance for first-time, full-time students who receive financial aid. This also forms the basis for transparency lists; a report on the College Navigator Web site the institutional net price of attendance for Title IV aid recipients by income categories; and for the U.S. Department of Education to develop a multi-year tuition and required-fees calculator for undergraduate programs for the College Navigator Web site.

The HEOA has been criticized for establishing statutory pricing of federal student loans based on political considerations rather than pricing based on risk.[17]

The 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act also maintained the requirement that universities must make an effort to register students to vote. A 2013 Dear Colleague letter from the U.S. Department of Education stated that universities “must make the voter registration forms widely available to [their] students and distribute the forms individually to [their] degree or certificate program students who are physically in attendance at [their] institution. Distribution by regular or electronic mail is permitted.”[18]

Title VI[edit]

During this reform period of 2008, Title VI of the HEA was reviewed.[19] Title VI provides federal funds to 129 international studies and foreign language centers at universities nationwide. Title VI supplies grants for international language studies, business and international education programs as well as international policy.[19]

Extension of HEA[edit]

After being reauthorized in 2008, the Higher Education Act was set to expire in 2013, but was re-extended to allow Congress time to work on the next reauthorization.[20] In December 2017, House Republicans announced that they had finalized an overhaul of the act, authored primarily by Representative Virginia Foxx of (R - N.C.), the chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The new bill is called the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act. The act aims to simplify the federal financial aid process and expand federal work study programs. It would also repeal two Obama-era programs - “gainful employment” and “borrower defense” - aimed at preventing financial exploitation of undergraduates, as well as bar their readoption.[21]

According to Committee spokesman Michael Woeste, “the reforms within the PROSPER Act are necessary to provide students with a high-quality education, and fix a system that has not been serving their needs.”[22]

Some concerns have been raised by advocacy groups about how the PROSPER Act would affect LGBTQ students. According to the Human Rights Campaign, “The PROSPER Act contains several provisions that would allow for the use of religion to justify otherwise prohibited discrimination that could negatively impact LGBTQ students.”[23]

Additionally, the PROSPER Act includes a weaker version of the provision requiring universities to increase student voter registration, a requirement present in the Higher Education Act since 1998. Critics worry that this change will lead to lower youth turnout in elections, as voter turnout is already historically lowest among young voters. [24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Johnson signs legislation into law". LBJ Library and Museum. Archived from the original on July 14, 2007. Retrieved October 23, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c "Higher Education Act". The Great Society Congress. Association of Centers for the Study of Congress. Archived from the original on April 20, 2016. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  3. ^ "The Higher Education Act (HEA): A Primer" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on December 11, 2019. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  4. ^ Text of Students for Sensible Drug Policy v. Spellings, 523 F.3d 896 (8th cir., 2008) is available from:  Findlaw  LexisOne  Law.com 
  5. ^ "Voter Registration Provision in Higher Education Amendments of 1998 | Global Risk Management Services". www.rit.edu. Archived from the original on November 30, 2016. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Stephen Burd, "Institutions Serving Minority Students Propose Changes to Higher Education Act," Chronicle of Higher Education 49, no. 26 (2003), http://web.ebscohost.com.
  7. ^ "Capital briefs," Community College Week 16, no. 4 (2003): 3, http://web.ebscohost.com.
  8. ^ Kristina Lane, "Bill Would Expand Higher Ed. Access for Minorities, Low-Income Students," Community College Week 16, no. 4 (2003): 3, http://web.ebscohost.com.
  9. ^ "A Strong Step for Students: House Higher Education Bill Promotes Innovation and Student Success" (PDF). Center for Law and Social Policy. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 25, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
  10. ^ "Congress Expands Basic Aid and Supports Innovation in Student Success, Basic Skills, and Workforce Partnerships" (PDF). Center for Law and Social Policy. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 25, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2011.
  11. ^ "Higher Education Opportunity Act - 2008". U.S. Department of Education. June 28, 2010. Archived from the original on May 9, 2009. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
  12. ^ "Higher Education Opportunity Act Anti-P2P provisions - 2008". Educause. Archived from the original on August 11, 2014. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  13. ^ "Dealing With the Higher Education Opportunity Act's New Copyright Protection Requirement" (PDF). Law Offices of Zick Rubin. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 12, 2014. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  14. ^ "Letter Opposing The Inclusion Of The Entertainment Industry Proposal On Illegal File Sharing In The HEA Sent By The Higher Education Members Of The Joint Committee" (PDF). Educause. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 3, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
  15. ^ American Association of University Women. Increasing Access to Higher Education. January 2008. http://www.aauw.org/advocacy/issue_advocacy/actionpages/upload/higherEdAct.pdf Archived January 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ University Business: Preparing for the Net Price Calculator: Avoid Potential Pitfalls by Taking These Steps Today By Haley Chitty, October 2009
  17. ^ Michael Simkovic, Risk-Based Student Loans (2013)
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 21, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ a b Hegji, Alexandra. 2014. The Higher Education Act (HEA): A Primer. Congressional Research Service.
  20. ^ "Higher Education Act and Department of Education". www.acenet.edu. Archived from the original on April 19, 2020. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  21. ^ Green, Erica L. (December 12, 2017). "New Higher Education Bill Rolls Back Obama-Era Safeguards". Archived from the original on November 16, 2019. Retrieved July 20, 2018 – via NYTimes.com.
  22. ^ Douglas-Gabriel, Danielle (February 7, 2018). "CBO estimates show House higher ed bill could hit student loan borrowers hard". Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 26, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 23, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ Unger, Clarissa. "Civic Nation BrandVoice: It's Time For Congress To Help Students Vote". Forbes. Archived from the original on November 21, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2018.


External Resources[edit]