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The Higher Education Act (HEA) defines "institution of higher education" to include public, nonprofit, and for-profit institutions, allowing students at these institutions access to $83.1 billion in aid. However, the act also includes a second, narrower definition of institution of higher education specifically excluding for-profits from access to nearly $1.96 billion in other funding. During the 109th Congress, legislation proposed consolidating the two definitions. In response to a congressional request, this report examines the extent to which a single definition might affect federal spending, other aspects of applicable federal programs, as well as state-level programs and policies. To address these objectives, GAO searched the U.S. Code to identify federal statutes and programs potentially affected by a change in definition, conducted in-depth reviews of programs and policies, and interviewed relevant officials.

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