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Congress has gone home, final exams are finished, and the holidays are almost done. So as we close the books on 2014, New America’s education program offers 15 higher education predictions for what we think will happen in the year ahead.

Congress and the Federal Government

  1. The Higher Education Act will not be reauthorized, though we will see a full Republican draft bill.
  2. An opponent of the student unit record ban will make an argument bemoaning the lack of quality data in higher education.
  3. Republicans will pass a budget reconciliation bill that would allow them to make changes to income-based repayment and eliminate Subsidized Stafford loans.
  4. Federal student loan interest rates will drop again this year, thanks to declining rates on 10-year Treasury bonds.
  5. Republicans will attach riders to a bill attempting to defund gainful employment and the college ratings system.
  6. The Carl D. Perkins Act will be reauthorized with broad bipartisan support just as everyone gives up hope that Congress can pass anything before the election.
  7. The committee created by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to study burden in higher education will conclude there is too much burden without noting that Congress is more responsible for that problem than the Department of Education.

Colleges

  1. A few small for-profit college chains will convert to nonprofit companies in order to avoid accountability.
  2. At least one larger for-profit college chain, besides Corinthian Colleges, will sell off most of its campuses or declare bankruptcy. (We wrote this before this happened.)
  3. Employers will continue complaining about the skills gap, but institutions will be under less pressure to respond as the labor market improves.
  4. The growth  of competency-based degree and certificate programs will continue to highlight the need for developing policies that to support and ensure their quality.

States

  1. More states will freeze tuition, but none will do so alongside a long-term spending plan.
  2. Additional governors will push for gimmicky degrees based on a target (e.g., $10,000 degrees, three-year bachelor’s degrees, and free college).
  3. Several states will propose performance-based funding schemes, including more goals tied to the workforce.
  4. ‘Pay it Forward’-type models will continue to be popular at the state level, even as none of them find a way to make it workable.