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The Higher Education Act (HEA): A Primer

The Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA; P.L. 89-329) authorizes numerous federal aid programs that provide support to both individuals pursuing a postsecondary education and institutions of higher education (IHEs). Title IV of the HEA authorizes the federal government’s major student aid programs, which are the primary source of direct federal support to students pursuing postsecondary education. Titles II, III, and V of the HEA provide institutional aid and support. Additionally, the HEA authorizes services and support for less-advantaged students (select Title IV programs), students pursing international education (Title VI), and students pursuing and institutions offering certain graduate and professional degrees (Title VII). Finally, the most recently added title (Title VIII) authorizes several other programs that support higher education. The HEA was last comprehensively reauthorized in 2008 by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA; P.L. 110-315), which auth orized most HEA programs through FY2014. Following the enactment of the HEAO, the HEA has been amended by numerous other laws, most notably the SAFRA Act, part of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-152), which terminated the authority to make federal student loans through the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program.

This report provides a brief overview of the major provisions of the HEA.