Skip To Main

Rep. Clarke Votes to Send Landmark Higher Education Legislation to the President

U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke today joined an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives to approve final legislation that would address the soaring price of college tuition and remove other obstacles that make it harder for qualified students to go to college.

“I am delighted to be among the members of the 110th Congress that were ready and willing to change the course of higher education in America,” stated Rep. Yvette D. Clarke.  “This bill addresses many of the issues that students and families face as they pursue higher education including an increase in the amount of Pell grant funding, a generous loan forgiveness program and additional access to student loans.  I am particularly pleased to have championed loan forgiveness for all Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) teachers nationwide, whose contributions are immeasurable.”


By a vote of 380-49, the House approved the Higher Education Opportunity Act (H.R. 4137), which would reform and strengthen the nation’s higher education programs to ensure that they operate in the best interests of students and families. The legislation builds on the Democratic Congress efforts to make college more affordable and accessible for all qualified students. Last year, Congress enacted into law a $20 billion increase in college financial aid over the next five years, the largest increase in student aid since the G.I. Bill of 1944.


The Senate is also expected to take a final vote on the legislation this week; if passed the bill would then be sent to the President’s desk for his signature.

“The legislation also strengthens provisions previously approved by the House to avoid conflicts of interest in the student loan programs. The bill’s new provisions include requiring better consumer disclosures and protections on private student loans. Together these protections form a Bill of Rights for college consumers,” said Rep. Clarke.


In addition, the Higher Education Opportunity Act would:


ü  Make textbook costs more manageable for students by, among other things, helping them plan for textbook expenses in advance of each semester;

ü  Allow students to receive year-round Pell Grant scholarships;

ü  Strengthen college readiness and support programs for minority and low-income students;

ü  Increase college aid and support programs for veterans and military families;

ü  Improve safety on college campuses and help schools recover and rebuild after a disaster;

ü  Ensure equal college opportunities and fair learning environments for students with disabilities; and

ü  Strengthen our nation’s workforce and economic competitiveness by boosting science, technology, and foreign language educational opportunities.

H.R. 4137 is a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the primary federal law aimed at expanding college access for low- and middle-income students If enacted, this would be the first time the Higher Education Act was reauthorized since 1998. The current law expired in 2003.

Rep. Yvette D. Clarke serves New York’s 11th Congressional district located in Brooklyn and is a member of the House Education and Labor Committee.