KEY VOTE: Cosponsorship of HERO ACT

KEY VOTE: Senate · Sep 9, 2019

Heritage Action supports the HERO Act and will include CO-SPONSORSHIP of it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.

The Higher Education Reform and Opportunity (HERO) Act (S. 2339 / H.R. 4098), introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), would empower states to develop their own accreditation systems to accredit colleges, individual courses within colleges, apprenticeship and vocational training programs, and curricula. It would also increase much-needed transparency in student outcomes, simplify federal student loan programs, and hold universities partially accountable for high student loan default rates.

An effort to deal with the problem of rising college costs is imperative because college tuition has risen significantly over the years. The Heritage Foundation notes, "Since 1982, the cost of attending college has increased 439 percent, more than four times the rate of inflation."

Each proposal contained within the HERO Act would put downward pressure on the rising cost of college by increasing choice, competition, and price transparency. The act would also create alternative pathways to four-year degrees, empowering students to gain the vocational and skills-based education needed to successfully enter the workforce without excessive student loan debt.

Lowering costs and increasing job training skill sets in our education system is not only necessary for the 21st century, but also supported by the American people according to polling conducted by Heritage Action. Executive Director of Heritage Action, Tim Chapman, writes in The Hill:

Our first poll surveyed registered Republican voters and found 74 percent felt a four year liberal arts degree is no longer worth the cost. When asked if American workers need more skills training to compete in the global economy, 70 percent said yes. Republican voters, at least, see the education industry as failing the United States. Colleges across the nation are providing poor value for the money and generally not offering the types of education needed to ensure a prosperous future.

The current system of accreditation, overseen in large part by the U.S. Department of Education, "narrows the number of available options for students by requiring students to attend an accredited institution in order to be eligible for a student loan" and prevents individual courses from being accredited. This one-size-fits-all" approach to college accreditation has become a "poor gauge of college quality." The Heritage Foundation explains:

Colleges rarely lose accreditation once it is granted, despite widespread recognition that the quality of higher education has been on the decline for decades. At the same time, colleges slog through the bureaucratic and time-consuming accreditation process in order to access federal subsidies, which constitute an increasingly large share of college budgets.

The Lee-Rooney bill decouples federal student aid from accreditation, granting states the ability to accredit courses and educational options and thereby increasing competition in higher education. The Heritage Foundation also notes:

Credentialing courses and acquired skills, not institutions, will be a far better reflection of the competencies valued by employers, will help bring down college costs, create a more flexible higher-ed experience for students, and bring down the barriers to entry for innovative start-ups.


Lee's College Accreditation Legislation Could Drive Down College Costs
Republicans can beat Democrats when it comes to college reforms
Accreditation: Removing the Barrier to Higher Education Reform
Obama's Education Plans: Little Evidence, Lots of Big Government

Heritage Action supports the HERO Act and will include CO-SPONSORSHIP of it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.