George Leef writes for the Martin Center about the potential impact of 2018 elections on federal higher education policy.

Back in the summer, it seemed that the Republican/conservative vision for higher education reform was building momentum. A House GOP bill called the PROSPER Act was on the verge of moving toward passage and education secretary Betsy DeVos was implementing regulatory changes meant to undo some Obama-era policies such as the “Gainful Employment” rule and aggressive Title IX mandates.

Then, the landscape of higher education policy was dramatically changed in the 2018 midterm elections with the House of Representatives going to the Democrats. Politicians with a completely different approach to higher ed will now have a loud voice. The Republican/conservative ideas will face powerful opposition and Democratic/liberal ideas are back in the game.

For starters, PROSPER is dead.

Writing for the Martin Center at the end of May, Jenna A. Robinson explained that the bill would eliminate outdated federal regulations, encourage innovation, and simplify the student loan system. But the bill never came to a vote, mainly due to stiff opposition from Democrats and their allies in the higher education industry. They don’t want less government control, but more.

The Democrats’ proposal for higher ed reform, introduced in July by Virginia Representative Bobby Scott (who will now chair the House Committee on Education and the Workforce), is called the Aim Higher Act. The bill is almost a point-by-point counter to the GOP bill, increasing federal control and spending in every instance.