What is the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA)?

The Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) is a law designed to strengthen the educational resources of the colleges and universities of the United States and to provide financial assistance to post-secondary students.

The HEA, as it is commonly known, increased federal money given to post-secondary institutions, developed scholarship programs, provided low-interest loans to students, and founded a National Teachers Corps. Part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society domestic agenda, the Act was signed into law on November 8, 1965.

Key Takeaways

  • The Higher Education Act of 1965, or HEA, is a piece of existing legislation in the United States that provides resources for college students.
  • The HEA provides access to financial aid, including subsidized grants and student loans to qualified post-secondary students.
  • The HEA additionally provides support for continuing education programs, school libraries, teaching resources, and scholarship funds.

The Basics of the Higher Education Act of 1965

The Higher Education Act of 1965 included six titles:

Title I: Provides funding for extension and continuing education programs.
Title II: Allocates money to enhance library collections.
Title III: Provisions for strengthening developing institutions.
Title IV: Provides student assistance through scholarships, low-interest loans, and work-study programs.
Title V: Provisions for improving the quality of teaching.
Title VI: Provisions for improving undergraduate instruction.

The Higher Education Act of 1965 has undergone multiple reauthorizations and amendments, including the addition of new title initiatives.

What the HEA Provides

The HEA led to the establishment of a variety of financial aid options made available for students attending secondary schools in the U.S. Financial assistance programs such as Pell Grants and Stafford loans were created as a direct result of this legislation being put into effect.

Pell Grants, which do not need to be repaid, come from federal funding and are available to undergraduate students only. The amount offered under the grants is based on financial need, the cost of attending the school, and the students’ standing for full-time or part-time attendance. There is also a maximum amount of funding per recipient, which is set by the legislation that reauthorizes the grant program.

The Stafford loans, which can be direct subsidized or direct unsubsidized loans, are offered to students in need of assistance. For direct subsidized loans, available to undergraduate students who demonstrate a financial need, the amount of financing is determined by the school they are attending. The interest on such loans is paid by the U.S. Department of Education as long as the student remains enrolled at least halftime in college. The interest is also covered for six months after they leave school. Direct unsubsidized loans do not require a financial need to be presented and are available to graduate students in addition to undergrads. The college or university will determine the size of the loan in relation to other financial assistance that was received. The borrower is responsible for repaying all of the interest on this type of loan.