Higher Education Policy

Higher Education Act

Policy Alert: Read our Recommendations for the Reauthorization

Ability to Benefit

In 1976 the Ability to Benefit provision was added to the Higher Education Act allowing students without high school degrees to become eligible for federal financial aid so long as they had the “ability to benefit” from postsecondary training. Beginning July 1, 2012, students were required to have a high school diploma or its equivalent in order to receive federal financial aid. In December 2014, Congress partially restored the Ability to Benefit provision of the Higher Education Act. Under this provision, otherwise-eligible students who do not have a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent, but who are enrolled in eligible career pathway programs, may qualify for federal financial aid, a critical resource in students' ability to access and succeed in postsecondary education. 

Senators Portman and Warner have introduced a bill, Go to High School, Go to College Act, to amend the HEA to increase college access for low-income students through Pell grants for those enrolled in early college high schools. JFF Vice President Joel Vargas comments on the bill.

First in the World

JFF submitted comments on the Proposed Priorities, Requirements, Selection Criterion, and Definitions for the First in the World Program. This program addresses President Obama's goal that America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Pell Grant Proposals

Jobs for the Future has proposed, as part of the Experimental Sites Initiative of the U.S. Department of Education, to use Pell Grant funding in innovative ways to expand postsecondary opportunities to low-income young people.