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Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA)


The Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) is a U.S. law aimed at strengthening the educational resources of colleges and universities. It provides financial aid to students in postsecondary and higher education. The HEA also includes provisions to improve access to higher education for disadvantaged students.


The phonetic pronunciation would sound like this:Higher – /ˈhaɪər/Education – /ˌɛdʒʊˈkeɪʃ(ə)n/Act – /ækt/of – /əv/ or /ɒv/1965 – /naɪntiːnˈsɪkstiːˈfaɪv/(HEA) – /eich/ /i:/ /ei/

Key Takeaways

  1. Expanded federal funding for universities: The Higher Education Act of 1965 significantly increased federal funding for universities. This marked a major shift in the way higher education was funded, emphasizing a greater role for the federal government. The funds were used for university research and campus improvements.
  2. Increased accessibility to higher education: The HEA greatly expanded access to higher education for low-income students. The law established programs like the Federal Pell Grant and the Federal Work-Study Program, both of which provide financial assistance to students based on their financial need.
  3. Promoted equality in education: The HEA mandated that federally funded educational institutions could not discriminate based on race, color, or national origin, helping to further equality in education. This reinforced other civil rights legislation of the 1960s that aimed to combat racial segregation and discrimination.


The Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) is vitally important as it revolutionized the dispersion and availability of financial aid for higher education in the United States. This act significantly expanded federal funding for universities and colleges and created scholarships and low-interest loans for students, aiming to make education more accessible to everyone. It served as a cornerstone for the systemic expansion of opportunities to attain higher education regardless of socioeconomic status. This includes programs like the federal Pell Grant, which provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students. The act sees regular reauthorizations which allow alterations and improvements to adapt to the evolving needs of students and educational institutions. Therefore, HEA plays a critical part in shaping U.S. higher education policy and financial accessibility.


The Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) was a legislative document implemented with the purpose of strengthening the educational resources of American colleges and universities, thereby promoting access to higher education for low-income students. The Act was part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society domestic agenda, aimed at eliminating poverty and racial injustice. Enacting HEA was a significant step forward in federal aid for higher education as the Act increased federal money given to universities, provided scholarships, and established a federal student loan program.The HEA is used to govern federal student aid programs and is designed to help students in need pursue their higher education dreams. Primarily, the Act administers financial assistance through grants and work-study programs to eligible individuals to assist them in accessing postsecondary education at colleges, universities, and vocational training programs. It is prevalent because it created federal grants and loan programs to support students in achieving a higher education. The HEA is regularly renewed to revise its provisions and to further improve higher education in America. The policies are designed to make higher education more affordable and accessible to create a more educated population.


1. Federal Student Aid Programs: A real-world example of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) is the funding and formation of Federal Student Aid programs by the U.S. Department of Education. This includes the provision of the Pell Grant, a subsidy provided by the federal government to students who display exceptional financial need. Many low-income students rely on grants like these to access higher education.2. Stafford Loans: Another example is the creation of Stafford Loans, now known as Direct Stafford Loans, which are federal student loans offered to eligible students enrolled in accredited American institutions to help cover the cost of higher education. Named after Vermont Senator Robert Stafford, this program was made possible by HEA and offers both subsidized (for students with financial need, interest does not accrue while in school) and unsubsidized loans.3. TRIO Programs: The Higher Education Act of 1965 also led to the establishment of the TRIO Programs, which are federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. These state and local regional centers help low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities progress from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

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

The Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) is a United States federal law intended to strengthen the educational resources of colleges and universities. The act has been amended several times to include various programs such as federal aid to students.

Why was the Higher Education Act of 1965 created?

The primary intent of the HEA was to provide financial aid for students in post-secondary and higher education. It aimed to increase accessibility and affordability of higher education for all Americans irrespective of their financial status.

What are the key programs under the Higher Education Act of 1965?

The key programs under the HEA include Pell Grants, Federal Perkins Loans, and the Federal Work-Study program. The HEA also includes measures to support minority serving institutions and improve teacher preparation programs.

How often is the Higher Education Act of 1965 renewed?

The Higher Education Act of 1965 is ideally reauthorized and updated every five years to ensure its effectiveness and relevance. However, the time frame can vary based on several factors.

How has the Higher Education Act of 1965 been amended?

The HEA has been amended several times since 1965. These amendments have added new programs, removed obsolete sections, and adjusted existing provisions to better serve American students and their families.

How does the Higher Education Act of 1965 impact students?

The HEA has a significant impact on students, as it provides federal financial aid opportunities including grants, work-study, and loans, making higher education more accessible and affordable.

How does the Higher Education Act of 1965 impact colleges and universities?

The HEA provides colleges and universities with federal funding, regulations, and accountability measures. This law mandates the distribution of financial aid and guides institutions in managing these funds.

Who administers the programs under the Higher Education Act of 1965?

The U.S. Department of Education administers the programs established under the Higher Education Act of 1965.

What changes were made in the most recent reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965?

The most recent changes to the HEA can vary depending on when the question is asked, as the Act is regularly reauthorized and updated. Information regarding updates or changes can be found on the U.S. Department of Education’s website or through other official government sources.

Related Finance Terms

  • Federal Student Aid (FSA)
  • Pell Grant
  • Stafford Loan
  • Title IV Funds
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Sources for More Information

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