Fresh Perspectives on Higher Learning

Insights & Outlooks

Comparison: Broadening Partnerships and Pathways Under the Higher Education Act

Affordability & Responsiveness, Today's Students
Comparison: Broadening Partnerships and Pathways Under the Higher Education Act

The Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER Act) (H.R. 4508) was introduced by House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) on December 1 to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

The bill makes significant changes to the underlying law, including expanding partnerships and pathways to access and complete a postsecondary credential or degree. The chart below compares current law to how the PROSPER Act would provide for these expansions.

IssueCurrent LawPROSPER Act
Workforce PellPell is limited to degree programs and credential programs that are at least 600 hours in length.Expands Pell to cover programs that are at least 300 hours in length, enabling students to use financial aid for programs and courses that culminate in credentials that lead to employment.
Apprenticeships/Learn and EarnN/ACreates the Expanding Access to Apprenticeship program. This program would provide one to four-year competitive grants to partnerships of colleges/universities and businesses. The partnerships would be designed to expand access to and participation in industry-lead programs leading to high-wage, high-skill careers. Partnerships would be required to match Federal funds and have plans to sustain the program after Federal funds expire.
Competency-Based Education (CBE)Allows student aid to be used for competency-based education approaches that are equated to credit hours or that qualify for direct assessment.Allows student aid for competency-based education approaches that are based on the achievement of competency and skills, eliminating the direct tie to credit hours.
Institutions of Higher Education Partnerships with Other ProvidersInstitutions of Higher Education can use alternative providers for up to 50 percent of the education and instructional content of their programs and courses.Allows up to 100 percent of programs and courses to be supported by alternative providers, expanding pathways for education and skill acquisition.