Bill to allow aid discussion stalled in Senate committee

Legislation about financial aid discussion among private universities such as Yale is still pending in Congress.

H.R. 768 — a bill that would permanently allow limited discussion about financial aid among schools that offer need-based aid — passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in the beginning of April and is now before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

A companion Senate bill has not been issued, and the proposition’s future, as well as the landscape of Ivy League financial aid, is indefinite.

Yale and about two dozen other private institutions have discussed general financial aid methodology and philosophy since Congress added a provision to the 1994 Improving America’s Schools Act allowing limited conversations between schools with need-based aid.

The 1994 provision came just three years after all Ivy schools signed an agreement that they would not discuss aid, thereby avoiding Justice Department accusations of conspiring against competing colleges.

The Senate committee analyzing H.R. 768 — the Need-Based Educational Aid Act — has not yet scheduled a hearing.

In 1997 a similar bill passed in the House, then was revised in Senate to allow schools to talk only on a temporary basis. The allowance for aid discussion will expire in September.

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