A: Maybe. College costs are a concern for lawmakers from both parties, and the typical partisan divide is less obvious here than with other subjects. For instance, a bipartisan agreement emerged this summer to overhaul student loan rates, and Obama signed into law changes that make borrowing cheaper for students in the next few years. But initial reaction to Obama's new plan from Capitol Hill was not enthusiastic, and some Republicans criticized the proposal as too government-centered.
Q: What is the timeline for Congress to do this?
A: As quickly — or as slowly — as lawmakers want. The major law that governs K-12 education, No Child Left Behind, expired in 2007. The Republican-led House has once again passed its version of a rewrite of this law, while the Senate Education Committee has finished its work and awaits a vote in the full chamber. The Senate committee this fall plans to start its rewrite of the Higher Education Act, and the panel's Democratic chairman, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, has scheduled the first hearings for September. But he's also waiting for a Government Accountability Office report on federal student loans that isn't due back until December.
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