Yesterday, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the chairman of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, announced a bill package that he has deemed a Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization. Any claim that this legislation is an HEA reauthorization is a sham. While the bill has some important provisions—including support for minority-serving institutions (MSIs), and a partial repeal of the ban on Pell grants for currently incarcerated individuals, it rejects almost all other needs of future, current, and former postsecondary students and borrowers. These glaring omissions reveal Sen. Alexander’s total disconnect from the struggles that students and borrowers face, and highlight his lack of willingness to solve the issues of affordability, access, and quality for current and future students.

For-profit and predatory colleges disproportionately target low-income students and students of color, and Sen. Alexander’s abdication of responsibility for the corruption of these institutions leaves these students at serious risk. Generation Progress works with students who have been targeted by these institutions, as well as with those who are burdened by unmanageable levels of student loans, and we understand the gravity of the situation they are facing and the need for our government to stand up on their behalf.

Generation Progress Communications Director Charlotte Hancock issued the following statement in response:

“It is critical that we pass a reauthorization of the HEA; however, this bill package falls far short of what is needed, which does a disservice to both the vital provisions that are contained within it as well as to the students and borrowers who critically need a real HEA reauthorization.

We appreciate that necessary reforms, including expanding opportunities for currently and formerly incarcerated individuals and providing much-needed funding to MSIs and HBCUs, have become part of bipartisan education conversations—and we will fight to ensure that these reforms are enacted. However, we still need an HEA reauthorization that addresses the critical issues facing current and future student loan borrowers. We must reject this shameful attempt from Sen. Alexander to pit criminal justice reform and student debt advocates against each other when what we need are solutions that will address all forms of injustice in our higher education system.”

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Emily Leach at eleach@americanprogress.org.

Get updates on these issues and more! Sign up to receive email updates on the latest actions, events, and updates impacting 18- to 35-year-olds.