New York University recognizes the bipartisan leadership in Congress following the passage of long-stalled legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). We appreciate that the agreement reaffirms and strengthens the core federal student aid programs, which remain essential to assisting low and middle income students gain access to a higher education. The University is particularly indebted to Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Representative Tim Bishop (D-NY), whose tireless efforts and deep understanding of the American system of higher education led to numerous improvements in the legislation over time.
The American higher education system, the envy of the world, derives its success from institutional autonomy, competition, choice for students, and limited federal regulation. However, we remain concerned that the renewed HEA will dramatically increase federal control and regulation of higher education and fundamentally strays from the intent of the original HEA passed in 1965 - to improve student access to a higher education regardless of family income. While we understand the desire to address rising tuitions, we believe it is counterintuitive to urge institutions to reduce costs while simultaneously adding hundreds of overlapping and costly mandates and reporting requirements that will result in increased administrative costs at all institutions. As other nations are aggressively trying to replicate the autonomous and innovative nature of the U.S. system, it is troubling that many in Congress seem intent on moving in the opposite direction, seeking to add layers of new federal controls and mandates.
Moving beyond the current HEA debate, we look forward to a more constructive and positive relationship with federal policymakers on our shared overarching goal - to ensure that able, hard-working students are not denied access to a higher education due to family income. No one entity - the federal government, state governments, private philanthropy, or universities on their own - can individually fulfill the promise of educational opportunity for all. Therefore we are hopeful of putting the current contentious climate behind us and begin a renewed conversation about the appropriate levels of responsibility from institutions, government and families.