Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965
Archived Information

Background Information

Since the last reauthorization of the HEA in 1998, funding for the programs authorized under the HEA has increased significantly. Notably, the amount of Federal student aid available has been increased by $23 billion between 1998 and 2002. The fiscal year 2002 appropriations bill signed by President Bush on January 10, 2002, increased the Federal student aid available to students through the grant, loan, and work-study programs authorized by the HEA to a record $69 billion for an estimated 8.1 million students. The President's fiscal year 2003 budget request would provide Federal student aid to an additional 340,000 students.

Many of these increases have been directed to those HEA programs that serve the neediest students. For example, the Pell Grant maximum was increased from $3,000 in 1998 to $4,000 in 2002, and funding for the Pell Grant program has increased from $7.3 billion in 1998 to $10.3 billion in 2002. The amount appropriated for the Work-Study program increased 22 percent from 1998 to 2002 to more than $1 billion.

The period since the last reauthorization of the HEA has been a period of constant change and rapid growth for the Federal student loan programs. Education loans have become a valuable source of postsecondary student aid for many students and parents. The total amount borrowed annually, including consolidation loans, under the two major Federal loan programs, the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program-formerly the Guaranteed Student Loan (GSL) Program-and the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program, has increased more than 50 percent, from $36 billion in fiscal year 1998 to an estimated $55 billion in fiscal year 2002.

Funding has also increased significantly for programs that aim to expand access and encourage first-generation, low-income, college students to attend and complete college. In fiscal year 2002, the Federal TRIO programs were funded at $803 million, an increase of 52 percent from 1998. These programs serve more than 850,000 at-risk students by providing outreach and support services, as well as information about postsecondary opportunities. Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) has grown significantly since its inception in 1998 and in fiscal year 2002 was funded at $285 million and serves 1.2 million students. Taken together, these programs represent more than $1 billion each year in annual funding and provide services to 2.1 million students from low-income families to help them enter and complete postsecondary education.

Funding for programs authorized by Title III of the HEA that strengthen the quality of institutions that serve large numbers of disadvantaged and minority students has also been increased since 1998. Specifically, funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Historically Black Graduate Institutions (HBGIs) has increased by 74 percent and 96 percent, respectively. Funding has also been increased for the Strengthening Institutions program to improve the academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability of a wide range of postsecondary institutions that serve large numbers of financially needy students by 33 percent.

Funding for the Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs) program authorized by Title V of the HEA has increased by $75 million - a six-fold increase. This program provides significant support to expand and enhance the academic quality, institutional management, fiscal stability, and self-sufficiency of the colleges and universities that enroll large percentages of Hispanic students.

The emerging importance of American higher education in the international arena has also been reflected in the amount of funding for programs in this area. Appropriations for international education and foreign language studies have increased 63 percent from 1998 to 2002.

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Last Modified: 03/01/2005