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The much awaited and five years overdue higher education bill, the “College Opportunity and Affordability Act”, has been officially signed by President Bush on 14 August, after having passed the House and the Senate. The wide-ranging bill, which is 20 times the size of the Higher Education Act of 1965 it modifies, creates 64 new programmes and addresses very diverse issues, ranging from the availability of Pell Grants (need-based grants to low-income undergraduate) to distantly education-related topics such as illegal music downloading. Along the numerous new provisions, the legislation also simplifies the financial aid application process for students and families.
Notwithstanding, the bill also includes some less desirable provisions, namely a large number of new regulations on record-keeping and reporting requirements that will be imposed on colleges and universities. As the length and the time necessary to pass the law are not indicators for its success in addressing current problems, it will take a few years of implementation before the quality and significance of the new legislation can be assessed.