WASHINGTON, April 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- With reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) ostensibly relegated to the back-burner in favor of countless other political issues, AccessLex Institute is committed to keeping HEA and its impact on graduate and professional students a priority. AccessLex Institute believes that reauthorization is vital to helping students manage the considerable expense of graduate and professional school and succeed in their chosen careers.
The primary goal of HEA since it was first enacted in 1965 has been to provide access to higher education for those who may not have otherwise been able to afford it. Effectively, it authorizes the entire federal student loan system. Last reauthorized in 2008, HEA expired in 2013; however, many programs have continued by way of automatic extensions or other Congressional action. But as the cost of higher education and student debt loads (especially for students at the graduate and professional level) continue to balloon nationwide, AccessLex Institute urgently supports reauthorization to: simplify the federal student aid and student loan repayment process for borrowers; increase the affordability of graduate and professional school; and acknowledge the value of advanced degrees to society.
"Our research and policy priorities are focused on helping students reach their educational goals, particularly students that have historically been underrepresented in law school," said Nancy Conneely, Director of Policy at AccessLex Institute. "Reauthorization of HEA can directly impact these efforts."
Among their recommendations, AccessLex believes financial aid administrators at graduate and professional schools should have the flexibility to require additional loan counseling for students. The current level of borrowing in higher education creates an imperative that students have sufficient information to make the best financial decisions, yet current law prohibits schools from requiring students to complete additional loan counseling to supplement the minimum requirements.
In addition, AccessLex Institute supports streamlining income-driven repayment options into a single plan, which would decrease complexity and confusion for borrowers. It also recommends that costs associated with preparing for professional licensure tests (i.e., the bar exam) be eligible for federal student loans in order to provide affordable education financing for the whole of a student's education requirements.
And, AccessLex Institute advocates that the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program be preserved to continue to incentivize longer-term commitments to public service. Such a benefit impacts not only those who receive forgiveness, but to an even greater degree, it benefits those who are served by PSLF recipients.
Christopher P. Chapman, President and Chief Executive Officer at AccessLex Institute added, "At AccessLex Institute, we are resolute in our appeal to policymakers and influencers to take actions that make legal education work better for both students and society at large. That commitment informs the policy behind these recommendations, and it is why we remain dedicated to seeing them enacted."
You can read AccessLex Institute's policy recommendations for the Higher Education Act in full here.
About AccessLex Institute:
AccessLex Institute is a nonprofit organization committed to helping talented, purpose-driven students find their path from aspiring lawyer to fulfilled professional. In partnership with its nearly 200 Member law schools, improving access and positively influencing legal education have been at the heart of the Company's mission since 1983. AccessLex Institute has offices in West Chester, Pa., and Washington, D.C., with a team of accredited financial education counselors based throughout the United States. Learn more at AccessLex.org.
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SOURCE AccessLex Institute