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ERIC Number: EJ802043
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-May-23
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
On the Hill, New Hands Refashion Key Law
Field, Kelly
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n37 pA1 May 2008
More than three decades ago, the debate for Higher Education Act was open to the public. Today the process of crafting a compromise bill looks very different, and the forces shaping the major law governing student aid have shifted in ways both significant and subtle. The changes have given new voices a say in policy decisions and made it harder for more-established players to ward off increased federal regulation and oversight that colleges oppose. While legislators will still eventually meet to vote on a final compromise, the real negotiating is going on behind the scenes in closed "preconference" meetings among aides to top lawmakers. By the time Congress convenes a formal conference to finalize the legislation, later this month or next, these aides will have reconciled the majority of differences between the two chambers' bills, which would crack down on rising tuitions while imposing hundreds of new reporting requirements on colleges. This power shift has given a small group of hard-working and intelligent but relatively inexperienced Congressional aides a huge amount of say over the shape of a bill that affects basically every college in the United States. This article discusses how this approach is making it harder for colleges and lobbyists for the higher-education associations to exert their influence on legislation. The arm's-length approach toward colleges may have something to do with the way the higher-education establishment is viewed on Capitol Hill. Recent battles over college costs and accountability have strained the relationship between Congress and institutions, and some lawmakers and aides complain that higher-education advocates are averse to change. On the other hand, some lobbyists voice concerns that these Congressional aides, many of whom have backgrounds in elementary and secondary education, do not fully respect the autonomy that the nation's colleges have long enjoyed.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States