The College Opportunity and Affordability Act (H.R. 4137), also known as the Higher
Education Act or "HEA", passed out of the House in an overwhelming vote (354
to 58) on February 7. The bill would fully reauthorize the Higher
Education Act (HEA) for the first time since 1998 and includes loan
forgiveness for national need occupations, clarifies appropriate
financial aid professional/lender relationships, simplifies the
financial aid application process, attempts to slow rising college
costs, and creates a host of reporting requirements for higher
The loan forgiveness provisions in the House bill would directly
benefit social workers by allowing a person with a degree in social
work or a related field, and who is employed by a public or private
child welfare agency, to have part of his or her college loans
forgiven. For each year of work, $2,000 would be forgiven, up to a
maximum of $10,000 over five years. The loan forgiveness covers 13
areas of national need, including qualified Head Start, child care and
preschool teachers; some teachers in high-need fields; and some mental
health professionals. The loan provisions would apply only after the
law is passed, not for previous years worked, and would be provided on
a first-come, first-served basis.
For HEA to ultimately pass into law, the House and Senate must approve
a negotiated version of the bill and send it to the president to be
signed. While the House version includes the loan forgiveness language,
the Senate version (S. 1642), passed during the summer, does not. We
need your help in getting the loan forgiveness provisions into the
Important note: We want to emphasize that the College Opportunity and
Affordability Act is not the same as the College Cost Reduction Act of
2007 (H.R. 2669) which provides loan forgiveness for social workers in
public child or family service agencies, nonprofit, military, and other
areas for eligible120 loan payments made after Oct 1, 2007.
That legislation was signed into law by the President in September.
While similar in focus, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act
is broader in scope.
For more info, see the website of the Committee of Education and Labor.