Congress passed the Higher Education Amendments and College Opportunity Act of 2008 (H.R.4137) yesterday that would reauthorize and revise programs under the Higher Education Act (HEA). The bill identifies school-based audiologists in a new “loan forgiveness for service in areas of national need” program, along with several other professions. The intent of the new federal loan forgiveness program is to encourage audiology graduates to take positions in school-based settings. Up to $2,000 in a year for no more than five years and $10,000 in the aggregate of outstanding loans would be forgiven. The bill is expected to be signed into law by the president.
The precedent of recognizing school-based audiologists as a high-need professional under HEA should also be helpful in including educational audiologists in state loan forgiveness and other recruitment/retention programs.
Funding for this new federal loan forgiveness program will need to come from the annual appropriations process done separately by Congress. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the cost of fully funding this new program would be $10.9 billion over the next five years. ASHA, along with other related professional organizations, will work with Congress to seek funding for this new program.
For further information about the Higher Education Amendments and College Opportunity Act of 2008, please contact Neil Snyder, ASHA’s Director of Federal Advocacy, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-498-2071, ext. 5614.