These Higher Ed Policy Issues Will Define 2022 | BestColleges (2024)

Here are four policy discussions that will impact higher education — and maybe control of Congress — in 2022.

  • Much of President Joe Biden’s higher ed agenda remains up in the air in 2022.
  • Politicians will be forced to address these policy issues in a midterm election year.
  • All four policy conversations revolve around college affordability and value.

One month into this midterm election year, it’s clear that issues impacting higher education will be at the forefront of the 2022 national political conversation.

President Joe Biden's first year in office has spurred some changes in higher education. However, his Build Back Better domestic spending bill faltered at the end of last year, leaving much of his higher education agenda — including several campaign promises — up in the air. With control of Congress at stake in November, expect the intensity surrounding policy issues old and new to be amplified as politicians jockey for the votes of future, current, and former college students.

Here are four of the policy discussions that will impact higher education — and maybe control of Congress — in 2022.

Calls for Student Debt Forgiveness

Politicians and advocates calling for student loan debt forgiveness will continue to be among the loudest voices at the Capitol this year.

Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, wrapped 2021 by reiterating their demand that Biden cancel up to $50,000 in outstanding student loan debt per person.

Advocacy groups, meanwhile, spent the last weeks of 2021 warning that the end of the payment moratorium — it was scheduled to end today — would burden the budgets of former students and drag the U.S. economy down. A three-month extension announced Dec. 22 may have bought the Biden administration more time, but as April approaches, those same advocates turn the volume up on their campaign.

Also looming large on the 2022 higher ed policy discussion is Biden’s unfulfilled campaign promise to cancel up to $10,000 in debt per person.

In April 2021, Biden’s chief of staff said that the president had asked the Department of Education (ED) to look into whether he had the power to cancel that debt through executive order. However, the administration has yet to release an update. Instead, a heavily redacted memo surfaced in November 2021, offering little insight into the president's executive ability to forgive student debt.

Democratic leadership is done waiting in 2022, with Warren last week leading a bicameral cadre calling on the Biden administration to release the ED memo outlining the administration’s legal authority to cancel federal student loan debt.

“We urge you to use every tool at your disposal to deliver relief to the millions of families inspired by your proposal to make a debt-free college degree within their reach by eliminating up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt for all families before payments resume,” said the letter signed by more than 80 bicameral lawmakers.

The alternative to executive order would be passing a bill through Congress in a midterm election year. If such legislation is introduced, it would be debated at the same time that many Americans see their debts cancelled through the ongoing waiver for the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) program. Advocacy groups recently put forth a plan for a similar waiver for those seeking forgiveness through an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan.

Negotiating the Future of For-Profit Colleges

The Biden administration made oversight of colleges and universities, particularly for-profit ones, a higher ed priority in year one.

ED negotiated new regulations for borrower defense claims and closed-school discharge during a December 2021 negotiated rulemaking session. Both of these issues largely affect for-profit colleges, which are the main targets of borrower-defense and closed-school discharge claims.

It appears that the administration will take an even more targeted approach to regulating these institutions in 2022.

ED began another negotiated rulemaking session on Jan. 18. Gainful employment and the 90/10 rule headline the issues that will be reevaluated during upcoming sessions, with a final consensus vote slated for late March.

Both gainful employment and the 90/10 rule regulate how much an institution can collect in federal financial aid from students, or whether they can at all. The gainful employment rule measures how much debt students take on to pursue a degree and compares that to the annual salaries they earn after finishing their education. The rule specifically applies to private for-profit institutions and non-degree certificate programs.

Most negotiators voted in favor of using the 2014 gainful employment rules, which were rolled back during President Donald Trump's administration, as a baseline to reinstate the oversight.

Many higher education advocates are also campaigning for the 90/10 rule to be changed. Currently, the rule forbids for-profit colleges from receiving more than 90% of their revenue from federal financial aid. GI Bill benefits from veteran students do not count toward that 90%, something many advocates seek to change. However, for-profit schools are invested in keeping the rule as is.

Pell Grant Promises

Momentum has been building for years to make a significant change to the Pell Federal Grant Program, and it all may come to a head in 2022.

Pell Grants are one the most common forms of federal financial aid and a tool nearly 7 million low- and middle-income students use each year to help pay for higher education. Currently, the maximum Pell Grant for the 2021-2022 award year is $6,495, according to the ED. The minimum is $650.

Much of the recent conversation has revolved around how much to increase the maximum award.

Biden campaigned on the promise of doubling the maximum Pell Grant award. However, his Build Back Better Act proposal in late 2021 only included an 8.5% increase to the maximum, raising it to $7,045 per year.

The future of the Build Back Better plan is now in doubt. Advocates for doubling the Pell Grant award, including the Double Pell Alliance, may use that as an opportunity to push for a more dramatic increase.

A report from the National College Attainment Network found that a maximum Pell Grant could cover approximately 79% of a student's tuition, fees, and living expenses during the 1975-1976 academic year. During the 2021-2022 school year, a maximum Pell Grant covered just 28% of those costs. Doubling the maximum Pell Grant could raise that percentage to 56% next year.

Data Enters the Discussion

Congress has shown renewed interest in making data about institutions of higher education more accessible for prospective college students. Both the College Affordability Act and College Transparency Act would mandate the creation of a student-level data network (SLDN) that would provide more information on college students and their outcomes at every college and university.

The Institute of Higher Education Policy (IHEP) and RTI International convened a panel of experts to discuss what an all-encompassing SLDN might look like. Most importantly, they talked about data that should be included that isn't currently part of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

Some panelists advocated for collecting data on:

  • Cumulative student debt
  • Number of first-generation college students enrolled
  • Number of veterans enrolled
  • Post-completion outcomes, including aggregate earnings
  • Cost of attendance

More recently, Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa introduced the Net Price Calculator Improvement Act, which would give prospective students a more accurate estimate of the price of each college. The Student Loan Disclosure Modernization Act would require the ED to be more transparent with students regarding loan terms, including annual interest rates.

Advocates for more data say that transparency will allow students to make more informed decisions before enrollment.

These Higher Ed Policy Issues Will Define 2022 | BestColleges (2024)


What are the current issues in higher education? ›

Today's colleges and universities face an unprecedented array of challenges and threats. These include enrollment declines, rising costs and student debt, emerging college alternatives, and political interference. Historically, higher education has weathered crises and disruptions, but this time feels different.

How do you define higher education? ›

Higher education is third level education after you leave school. It takes places at universities and Further Education colleges and normally includes undergraduate and postgraduate study.

What is the purpose of higher education in the 21st century? ›

There is no absolute way of knowing the future of higher education or make certain an institutions success in the future, but the objective is to empower students, establish an inclusive environment, and strengthen transfer.

What is the meaning of Times Higher Education? ›

Times Higher Education (THE), formerly The Times Higher Education Supplement (The Thes), is a British magazine reporting specifically on news and issues related to higher education.

What is the main purpose of higher education? ›

Its main purpose is three-fold: A higher education institution for freedom and democracy, for knowledge and innovation, and for humankind and their environment.

What are the main goals of higher education? ›

Higher education imparts in-depth knowledge and understanding so as to advance the students to new frontiers of knowledge. Higher education also provides opportunities for lifelong learning, allowing people to upgrade their knowledge and skills from time to time based on societal needs.

What is the true purpose of higher education? ›

According to the survey, most students attend college in order to qualify for a good job, be successful at work, make money, learn new things and grow as a person.

What are 3 important benefits of higher education? ›

College graduates have lower smoking rates, more positive perceptions of personal health, and lower incarceration rates than individuals who have not graduated from college. Higher levels of education are correlated with higher levels of civic participation, including volunteer work, voting, and blood donation.

Why is it important to continue in higher education? ›

Studies have shown that acquiring a higher education increases your lifespan in that it equips you with the ability to make better life choices, make healthier choices and have better access to healthcare, economic stability, and financial security.

What is the role of higher education in progress of a society? ›

Universities are committed to a mission that underpins their purpose and function in society as centres of new knowledge, understanding, skills and experience, through research, learning and teaching, leadership, outreach and service to society.

What are the 3 types of higher education? ›

Higher education at undergraduate level, masters and doctoral level became levels 6, 7 and 8.

What are the 4 types of higher education? ›

The basic classifications are:
  • doctoral universities,
  • master's colleges and universities,
  • baccalaureate colleges,
  • baccalaureate/associate colleges,
  • associate colleges,
  • special focus colleges, and.
  • tribal colleges.
29 Mar 2022

Does higher education lead to longer life? ›

Men with a university degree could also expect to spend 89% of their remaining years in good health, compared with 81% for those with less than a secondary graduation. For women aged 25 years, the education advantage of a university degree was 6.7 years more in life expectancy.

What is the greatest challenge facing teachers today 2022? ›

Teaching has evolved over the years, and with that comes different challenges. Classroom management, creating engaging lesson plans, time management, and reaching diverse learning styles are some things on teachers' plates.

What are four of the biggest issues impacting education? ›

10 Major Challenges Facing Public Schools
  • Classroom Size.
  • Poverty.
  • Family Factors.
  • Technology.
  • Bullying.
  • Student Attitudes and Behaviors.
  • No Child Left Behind.
  • Parent Involvement.
18 May 2022

What is the greatest challenge today's students face 2022? ›

The 6 Biggest Challenges Facing Children in 2022
  1. Children Living in Conflict Zones. ...
  2. Unprecedented Global Hunger. ...
  3. Two Years of Disrupted Education. ...
  4. Climate Change. ...
  5. Children Crossing Borders. ...
  6. Child Mortality Due to COVID-19.

What are the four major problems of students? ›

Common Issues
  • Social anxiety, general anxiety, test anxiety, or panic attacks.
  • Family expectations or problems.
  • Depression, lack of energy or motivation, hopelessness, being overwhelmed, low self-esteem, homesickness, loneliness.
  • Relationship difficulties (emotional and physical aspects of intimate relationships)

What is the main problem of students during this pandemic? ›

(2020) found in their research that the lack of knowledge, skills and devices, internet connection, irrelevance and issues with system access were the problems experienced by teachers and students in the Covid-19 pandemic. The third of the themes revealed at the end of the study was impossibility.

What are the 4 benefits of higher education? ›

Those who get an education have higher incomes, have more opportunities in their lives, and tend to be healthier. Societies benefit as well. Societies with high rates of education completion have lower crime, better overall health, and civic involvement.

Can everyone benefit from higher education? ›

According to a lot of research, continuing education through undergraduate/graduate studies after finishing high school definitely brings a lot of benefits to young people, including the increased chances of a higher salary and employment, a chance of pursuing further knowledge in a particular area, adequate ...

Is higher education necessary for success? ›

Higher education might not be necessary for financial success but it ensures a prosperous future. Education is never a waste of time or money. Financial success cannot be guaranteed by anything but financial stability is definitely assured by education.

What are the three main functions of the higher education system? ›

Given these best practices in the management of research, HEIs have a great chance of fulfilling their research functions. The three fundamental functions of HEIs are instruction, research and extension.

What do you gain from higher education? ›

You can expect your life to change in the best ways when you get a degree—you'll likely see more job opportunities, be a better job candidate, have higher earning potential, and enjoy greater economic and job stability if you are college-educated.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of higher education? ›

  • You can become an expert in a subject you love. ...
  • University can prepare you for a specific career path. ...
  • Graduates earn more. ...
  • Uni gives you time to gain work experience. ...
  • You'll get a taste of independence. ...
  • You will gain high-level transferable skills. ...
  • It can broaden your mind. ...
  • You may not gain technical skills.

How do you answer how this course will help you in future? ›

Discuss your career aspirations, and talk about how the course aligns with your career goals. Be specific when discussing how you hope this specific course prepares you for your career. Share specific career milestones you hope to achieve, and discuss why you chose this specific career.

What is the value of higher education? ›

Lifetime earnings are as high as $1 million more for college and advanced degree holders. ❯ Average annual retirement income is more than 4 times higher for college graduates than high school graduates.

How can we improve the higher education system? ›

6 Ways to Improve Your University's Quality of Education
  1. Hire a Qualified Lecturer. ...
  2. Measure the Student Outcomes and Improve. ...
  3. Provide Opportunities to Learn. ...
  4. Improve Teaching Methods. ...
  5. Introduce Innovative Infrastructure and Technology. ...
  6. Continuous Quality Improvement.

What is the impact of higher education on economic growth? ›

A country's economy becomes more productive as the proportion of educated workers increases since educated workers can more efficiently carry out tasks that require literacy and critical thinking. However, obtaining a higher level of education also carries a cost.

What is another name for higher education? ›

What is another word for higher education?
further educationgraduate school
higher learninginstitute
tertiary-level educationtertiary school

What is a Level 6 degree? ›

Level 6. Level 6 qualifications are: degree apprenticeship. degree with honours - for example bachelor of the arts ( BA ) hons, bachelor of science ( BSc ) hons. graduate certificate.

Is Bachelor degree a higher education? ›

Here are the definitions of most frequently used terms related to Higher Education: Bachelor's Degree: It is usually an undergraduate academic degree awarded for a course or major that generally lasts three or four years.

What's the Number 1 college in the world? ›

1California Institute of Technology (Caltech)USA
2Harvard UniversityUSA
3Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)USA
80 more rows

What is the most prestigious degree? ›

RankDegree subject% high meaning
1Petroleum Engineering72%
2Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS)44%
3Applied Economics and Management69%
4Operations Research48%
6 more rows

How can I survive without a college degree? ›

12 Great Ways How to be Successful Without College
  1. It's never too early to start. ...
  2. Consider careers that don't need degrees. ...
  3. Learn how to sell and negotiate. ...
  4. Expand your network. ...
  5. Find a mentor. ...
  6. Read. ...
  7. Work hard. ...
  8. Leverage the power of the internet.

Does higher education really matter? ›

Employers really do look at your education as an important aspect of your resume and many companies won't consider an applicant without a minimum of a bachelor's degree. In addition, many companies offer higher entry-level salaries for a college degree.

Does higher education means a better career? ›

You gain knowledge, skills and experience to help you both in your career and in life in general. On top of that, by gaining additional skills in communication and problem solving and achieving your goals, you can also increase your confidence.

Why is it called higher education? ›

Education beyond secondary education, especially at a college or university.

What is the difference between education and higher education? ›

Higher Education is a term that refers to colleges, universities, and any education beyond high school that leads to a certificate or a college degree. Higher Education is also referred to as post-secondary education or shortened to Higher Ed.

What's the difference between higher education and further education? ›

Higher education is education after you leave school. It is usually classed as an undergraduate or postgraduate degree (though there are other options). Further education is education received after secondary school that is not offered at a degree level. Therefore, separate to university education.

What is the best degree to get? ›

Most In-Demand Degrees
  1. Pharmacology. For a lucrative career helping people, pharmacology is at the top of the list for in-demand degrees. ...
  2. Computer Science. ...
  3. Health Science. ...
  4. Information Technology. ...
  5. Engineering. ...
  6. Business Administration. ...
  7. Finance. ...
  8. Human Resources.

What are the 3 types of higher education institutions? ›

Key Points at a Glance
  • Universities – This type of HEI has multiple colleges with different specializations. ...
  • Colleges – These are HEIs that offer bachelors and some masters degrees. ...
  • Community Colleges – Sometimes referred to as “junior colleges”, these HEIs offer certificates or associate degrees to students.

Why is higher education important to you personally and professionally? ›

College is important for many reasons, including increased career stability and satisfaction, and the ability to make an impact on your community. With more and more careers requiring advanced education, a college degree can be critical to your success in today's workforce.

Which is better job or higher education? ›

A job could be the best choice for you if it's the need of the hour. On the other hand, if you are financially stable with an interest in further studies, pursuing higher studies is unmistakably the best option.

What are the benefits of further education? ›

Non-financial benefits include:
  • changes in self-confidence or self-esteem.
  • an increased likelihood of becoming more involved in the local community.
  • a greater ability to make better use of spare time.
  • a greater focus or understanding of what learners want to with their lives.
28 Jan 2013

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