WASHINGTON — As Americans head to the polls today, the implications that their votes hold for federal higher education policy aren’t likely to drive them toward a candidate. Nonetheless, the outcomes of today’s Congressional elections will shape debates on higher education for the next few years.
Polls and prognostication suggest that Republicans will easily capture a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Races for several of the 39 Senate seats up for grabs today are too close to predict and may be for days. Regardless of which party holds the majority, it’s expected to be a slim one.
Pell Grants, tougher oversight of for-profit colleges and better accountability for research funding may not on their own be top priorities for the 112th Congress, but they are likely to creep into some of the broader discussions of fiscal responsibility that will inevitably dominate discussion. They’re already surrounded by debates symptomatic of the scarcity of federal funds and will continue to be examined with microscopic precision, especially with a Republican majority in one or both chambers.