The efficiency of the work of educational facilities in the United States is ensured through the adoption of legal regulations, and one of them is the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008. This document clarifies controversial issues concerning the common practices of colleges and universities throughout the country. They are primarily related to financial assistance to young people who otherwise have no chances to enter universities and the proper distribution of educational resources. The latter aspect incorporates multiple challenges, such as developing safety plans and rules regulating the relationships between students and educators. In turn, the former is presented by numerous grant programs and requirements for universities. However, it is unclear how people benefit from these solutions. Therefore, it is critical to understand which gaps are addressed by the introduction of the HEOA by examining its provisions and reflecting on the influence of financial aid on students as per this law.
Review and The Main Provisions of The HEOA
The act under consideration includes a variety of regulations that correlate with the above areas. Thus, the task of ensuring equal opportunities for pursuing higher education for all citizens is addressed by the emphasis on colleges’ and universities obligations to allocate appropriations funds (“Higher Education Opportunity Act,” 2008). They are calculated with regard to their previous indicators over the past five years, as follows from Title III – Institutional Aid (“Higher Education Opportunity Act,” 2008). Moreover, the HEOA specifies the scope of help under the federal Pell Grant program, which is aimed to provide aid for undergraduate students on the grounds of their needs, as per Title IV – Student Assistance (“Higher Education Opportunity Act,” 2008). The implementation of these measures, alongside the rules for managing student loans, making lender lists, and the presentation of information concerning the costs of textbooks and other materials, is monitored by the Education Department (“Higher Education Opportunity Act,” 2008).
In this way, the financial aspect of the matter seems to be the principal cause of reauthorizing the previously existing regulations while combining them with new rules which correspond to the emerging needs of low-income students.
Meanwhile, the mentioned provisions of the HEOA are complemented by different conditions, which are to be followed by educational institutions in the United States. They are connected to the struggles of students and facilities in the past and can be demonstrated through examples of jurisprudence. Thus, according to the Trustees of Dartmouth College V. Woodward, 17 U.S. 518 (1819), the corporate nature of colleges and universities was established. This case led to the need to ensure that their activity is regulated by authorities so that the affected person’s rights are not violated. In other words, it served as the precondition for the examined law, and it is accompanied by other regulations, such as the transparency of all activity, including responsibility for students’ safety and copyrighted materials (“Higher Education Opportunity Act,” 2008). Moreover, people’s equal opportunities in pursuing higher education can be viewed as the consequence of previous injustice, as per Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954). In this situation, racial concerns were confirmed to be crucial, and they are reflected in the attention of legislators to the needs of various population groups.
Financial Aid and Its Impact on Students
Since financial aid is one of the main provisions of the HEOA and, more specifically, this version of the act, it is crucial to demonstrate its effects on students eligible for receiving assistance. From this point of view, the consideration of the most vulnerable categories of people pursuing higher education can help address this task. One of them is foster youth, which is well-studied by scholars who intend to improve their conditions by analyzing outcomes (Miller et al., 2019). Their selection attention to this group is conditional upon the fact that the unfavorable economic situations of its members are alarming (Miller et al., 2019). Meanwhile, the application of the HEOA to this case guarantees their support through the development of campus programs, which correlate with the regulations of this law (“Higher Education Opportunity Act,” 2008). In this way, they have higher chances of graduating from educational institutions (Miller et al., 2019). Nevertheless, the financial status of the affected persons is not the only concern of the government as there is a variety of conditions that prevent universities from enrolling students who are reported to suffer from them.
From this perspective, one of the most vulnerable groups of people is individuals with intellectual disabilities. For instance, students with Autism Spectrum Disorder face challenges in this respect (Haydon et al., 2019). Therefore, they are prioritized by the HEOA, and financial aid ensured by the Department of Education helps overcome the barriers to higher education (Haydon et al., 2019). It means that their opportunities guaranteed by other legal regulations are provided in practice rather than in theory. The same applies to other similar health issues, and the majority of measures, as per the HEOA, are aimed at increasing inclusion by targeting the educational facilities with fewer students from this group (O’Connor et al., 2019). In this way, reasonable accommodations are guaranteed for all people regardless of their personal challenges.
They match the ideals of diversity and full participation in society with future employment and income opportunities (Smith & Stein, 2020). Hence, considering the mentioned factors, the impact of provided financial aid on students can be described as the general improvements in their situations concerning the long-term consequences of such decisions made by the government.
To summarize, the development of legal regulations of access to higher education is comprised of measures intended to address the existing gaps in opportunities. First, the emphasis on the obligation of educational facilities to allocate funds for this purpose allows a conclusion on their principal role in the outcomes. Second, careful calculations of financial assistance for students as per the recommendations of the HEOA improve the mechanism of meeting their needs. Third, the particular attention of legislators to diversity and equality leads to the inclusion of all people. Therefore, the most critical issues with regard to this field are efficiently resolved by the combined efforts of states and the federal government.
In addition, the proper distribution of financial aid allows for decreasing the risks for the representatives of the most vulnerable population groups who strive to pursue higher education. They primarily include individuals with intellectual and developmental difficulties and foster youth who are reportedly struggling to enter the universities of their choice. This situation results in the creation of unequal conditions for the affected citizens compared to other categories of students. However, this problem is solved by the provisions of the HEOA, which allow for designing efficient campus programs and prioritizing people with fewer opportunities in such cases.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954). Web.
Haydon, T., Schmidt, C., Buncher, A., & Carnahan, C. (2019). Comparing numbered heads together with and without peer-led opportunities to respond: A case study. Education and Treatment of Children, 42(2), 245-263. Web.
Higher Education Opportunity Act. Publ. L. No. 110-315, 122 Stat. 3078 (2008). Web.
Miller, J. J., Benner, K., Donohue-Dioh, J., & Segress, M. (2019). Supporting collegiate foster youth and alumni: A mixed-method planning approach for higher education. Evaluation and Program Planning, 72, 67-76. Web.
O’Connor, B., Espiner, D., & O’Keeffe, M. (2019). Widening higher education opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities. In P. O’Brien, M. L. Bonati, F. Gadow & R. Slee (Eds.), People with intellectual disability experiencing university life: Theoretical underpinnings, evidence and lived experience (pp. 20-37). Brill Sense.
Smith, M. S., & Stein, M. A. (2020). Combating the exclusion and marginalization of persons with intellectual disabilities in higher education in the United States. In J. Bhabha, W. Giles & F. Mahomed (Eds.), A better future: The role of higher education for displaced and marginalized people (pp. 268-291). Cambridge University Press.
Trustees of Dartmouth Coll. v. Woodward, 17 U.S. 518 (1819). Web.