On the 52nd anniversary of the enactment of the Higher Education Act of 1965, Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, detailed in an afternoon editorial board meeting with the Washington Examiner how Republicans plan to reform the aging legislation.
Foxx, noting that the bill was last reauthorized nine years ago, argued their reforms would modernize the country's post-secondary education system, to better prepare students for the workforce of the present and the workforce of the future.
"A lot has happened in the nine years since that bill was last reauthorized," she said, noting the "demands of the workforce have changed dramatically."
Foxx wants schools to be more transparent about what they have to offer potential students, ensuring families make good decisions before investing time and money in programs that might not be good fits.
"Many students decide to go to colleges and universities that are very expensive and maybe don't have the major that they want ultimately," the congresswoman said. "They wind up with a lot of debt, they may not finish, so we want to give them as much information as we can to say, 'Are you making the right decision?'"
A lot is at stake, because students who can't complete programs of education often leave them in much worse shape than they began. "It's really the people who don't complete who have the biggest problems with student debt," observed the chairwoman.
Foxx also hopes to reform the student financial aid process. "We've talked for years about one grant, one loan, one work study program," she noted, explaining her broader goal is to simplify the complicated system.
As her committee drafts new legislation, Foxx is intent on closing the skills gap.
"Everywhere I go, and all the people who come here to see me, say 'We can't find skilled employees.'" she relayed. "Every member of Congress is hearing that whether you're a Democrat or Republican."
"We want to do everything we can not just to talk about the present, but also about the future," insisted Foxx, "and what needs to be done to help [post-secondary education] respond to the needs of our culture."