On behalf of our activist community, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to support the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity (HERO ) Act, H.R. 4274. Introduced by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), the HERO Act would allow state lawmakers to tailor education programs to the unique needs of students by developing their own system for accrediting educational institutions instead of being restricted by the one-size-fits-all approach of the federal Department of Education.
The cost of a traditional four-year education at an accredited institution is rising ever steadily, placing an immense financial burden on American families. However, few alternatives to the traditional “brick-and-ivy” institutions exist. The HERO Act solves this problem, and allows states to create innovative and affordable education choices for American families.
The HERO Act breaks the long-standing paradigm that the only acceptable educational standard is the four-year Bachelor’s Degree from a highly-ranked institution. Additionally, the HERO Act also advances the principles of federalism by empowering states to expand the types of institutions that would be eligible for Title IV student loans. By injecting the principles of competition and choice, the HERO Act seeks to decrease the cost of education and increase the value of non-traditional educational tracks, like online courses, apprenticeships, or vocational schools, which often provide the best opportunity for particular students to reach their full potential.
Despite our federalist system, which permits experimentation and competition in each of our diverse states and communities, bureaucrats in Washington maintain a monopoly as the arbiter of educational standards. Today, 40 percent of graduates enter jobs for which they did not need a four-year degree. The national, one-size-fits-all education standard is failing students who would benefit from less costly, less traditional methods.
The HERO Act would not require states to develop their own accreditation system, but would simply allow them to do so if they so choose. Increasing latitude to states to serve their own constituents brings opportunity for increased efficiency and value in education. Additionally, the HERO Act increases transparency by requiring accredited institutions to publish data on the percentage and number of students receiving government loans, as well as the average amount of total federal loan debt.
As Rep. DeSantis said himself, “Giving states the ability to innovate will make it possible for students to use Title IV funds in pursuit of a wide-range of educational approaches at potentially a fraction of the cost.” For these reasons, I urge you to contact your representative and ask him or her to support the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act, H.R. 4274.
Adam Brandon, President and CEO, FreedomWorks