What is the Higher Education Act and, more importantly, why should you care about its upcoming reauthorization?

The Higher Education Act, which originally was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, is the law that governs almost all aspects of how colleges and universities operate in this country. And as with most significant pieces of legislation, it includes “sunset” provisions, meaning that certain parts of the law expire unless they are expressly extended, or “reauthorized” by Congress and signed by the President.

Some Higher Education Act reauthorizations have had a profound impact on our society. The 1972 reauthorization, for instance, included the landmark Title IX provisions promoting gender equity in women’s sports. Today’s sports calendars on college campuses are filled with inter-scholastic women’s events that would have been unheard of, or relegated to the intramural gym, prior to this significant congressional action.

Today, we are approaching another Higher Ed reauthorization, and current and future college parents, if mobilized, can have a major impact on its direction and content. Key questions relating to school accountability, cost and admissions, among many others, will be addressed by the relevant congressional committees, and eventually the full U.S. House and Senate, during the next year.

In the coming months, you will begin to notice more and more activity in the Advocacy area of our Web site, as we frame the issues to be addressed in reauthorization and, in some cases, adopt College Parents of America positions or form coalitions with like-minded organizations, as we have in the case of The Coalition for Better Student Loans.

We can’t promise it will be as dramatic as NBC’s West Wing, but we can promise that, for the first time in any reauthorization since 1965, your interest and concerns – as a current or future college parent – will be represented at the policy table.