Higher Education Act

Higher Education Act



The Higher Education Act (HEA) governs nearly all federal financial aid programs for the nation’s postsecondary students. The vast majority of HEA funding flows through Title IV of the legislation, which oversees the administration of the various student loan and grant programs such as the federal Pell grant.


The Higher Education Act was last comprehensively updated in 2008. Since that time, subsequent legislation has amended portions of HEA, extending authorization periods for several programs over the past few years.

Connection to Career Technical Education (CTE)

In addition to CTE at the middle or high school level, students participate in CTE at postsecondary institutions, including area technical centers, community and technical colleges. HEA is intended to expand access to postsecondary education and provides opportunities to align postsecondary with workforce development. However, as currently structured HEA does not provide comparable financial aid support for learners wishing to pursue high-quality, shorter-term CTE programs at these institutions.

Advance CTE Recommendations

Advance CTE advocates for HEA reauthorization based on these recommendations, which reflect the input and priorities of our members. In particular, Advance CTE seeks to broaden financial aid eligibility for high-quality shorter-term CTE programs, as proposed in the JOBS Act.

Resources on Current Law

Higher Education Act

  • Full text of HEA

U.S. Department of Education Laws & Guidance on Higher Education

  • Resources and updates on HEA

The Higher Education Act (HEA): A Primer (April 2023)

  • A summary of HEA’s major provisions from the Congressional Research Service

American Council on Education Analysis of HEA (August 2008)

  • A summary of the HEA 2008 reauthorization highlighting college costs, financial aid, disclosures and compliance provisions, student loan provisions, professional development and international education

Resources on the Reauthorization Process

Advance CTE HEA Reauthorization Recommendations (April 2019)

  • A summary of Advance CTE’s recommendations for the renewal of HEA

Advance CTE HEA Reauthorization Recommendations Infographic (March 2020)

  • A summary of Advance CTE’s recommendations for the renewal of HEA

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the JOBS Act (March 2021)

  • Advance CTE strongly endorses and supports the JOBS Act which, if enacted, would make high-quality shorter-term CTE programs eligible for federal Pell Grants