News Release from AASCU

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 2015-10-14

Contact: Jennifer Walpole (202) 478-4665

HIGHER EDUCATION LEADERS TO JOIN FORMER SECRETARIES OF EDUCATION TO COMMEMORATE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE HIGHER EDUCATION ACT (HEA)

Washington, D.C.—The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), in conjunction with Texas State University and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, will host a 50th anniversary celebration of the signing of the Higher Education Act.  The event will take place on Monday evening, October 26, 2015, and will be held on the campus where the original HEA was signed in 1965 by President Johnson— Texas State University, San Marcos (then Southwest Texas State College, Johnson’s alma mater).

The evening will begin with remarks by AASCU President Muriel Howard and Texas State University President Denise Trauth, followed by a panel discussion with former Secretaries of Education Shirley Hufstedler, Rod Paige and Margaret Spellings. Historian Mark Updegrove, director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, will moderate the discussion. Remarks by President Obama and current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be presented via video. Following the panel, Peter McPherson, president, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and David Warren, president, National Association of Independent Colleges (NAICU), will offer remarks.

AASCU, APLU and Texas State are commemorating the signing of the  HEA in recognition of the fact that Lyndon Johnson’s vision of improved opportunity for all Americans radically changed—and improved—both higher education and America in numerous ways. Not only did access to postsecondary education and training vastly increase as a direct result of federal support, higher education mitigated many of the historical inequities in American society.  

The Higher Education Act embodied a significant expansion of the federal role in higher education over time and reflects massive growth in the federal fiscal investment in students and universities. Today, the government spends some $170 billion annually on grants and loans related to higher education. In addition, federal support has helped public universities expand programs, research and physical plants.

The original version of the Higher Education Act included several pioneering components:

  • Title I, Community Service and Continuing Education provisions, authorized grants for research and programs focused on addressing societal problems such as poverty, substandard housing, and opportunities for youth.

  • Title II approved federal financial support for college libraries. 

  • Title III provided for aid to “developing institutions,” including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, two-year colleges, and technical institutions. 

  • Title IV, where the bulk of HEA funding resides, authorized federal aid to be generally available, thus expanding the federal role beyond certain types of students, such as veterans or students in select disciplines. 

  • Title V established a national Teacher Corps and federal programs to improve teacher education. 

  • Title VI was originally designed to provide grants to improve undergraduate instruction through upgrades in technology and faculty development. 

  • Title VII built on the Higher Education Facilities Act to support construction in higher education.

  • Title IV established Basic Educational Opportunity Grants (BEOG, which later became Pell Grants) and what eventually became known as the TRIO Program, designed to help low-income students; established the seminal Guaranteed Student Loan program; expanded and codified the federal work-study program; and integrated an existing federal program, the National Defense Student Loan Program, later known as Perkins loans.

The original Higher Education Act (Public Law 89-329) was signed into law on November 8, 1965. At the signing, Johnson said the bill “will swing open a new door for the young people of America…the most important door that will ever open—the door to education,” adding, “This legislation is the key which unlocks it.” 

It should be noted that AASCU’s first leader, Allan W. Ostar (now 91 years old), was invited by President Johnson’s education advisor, Douglass Cater, to help write the HEA. Ostar advocated for more federal grants for students and, in his words, was “fairly strongly opposed to having a significant dependence on loans.”

The celebration will conclude with a reception and dinner with remarks by Luci Baines Johnson, daughter of President Johnson.   

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The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is a research, policy, and advocacy organization representing 239 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations.  Founded in 1887, APLU is North America's oldest higher education association with member institutions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, Canada, and Mexico. Annually, member campuses enroll 4.8 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.2 million degrees, employ 1.4 million faculty and staff, and conduct $41.4 billion in university-based research.