Breadcrumbs

Making Higher Education Affordable; Discussions happening on the Hill


January 31, 2014

There were two events this week on the Hill regarding higher education affordability.  

The first hearing was the House Committee on Education and the Workforce subcommittee Hearing “Keeping College within Reach: Sharing Best Practices for Serving Low-Income and 1st Generation Students” and the second was the Center for American Progress: "Making College Affordable and Creating Value for Students: Accountability and Postsecondary Education Reform” briefing.

Committee on Education and the Workforce: “Keeping College within Reach: Sharing Best Practices for Serving Low-Income and 1st Generation Students” Subcommittee Hearing

Members in Attendance: Chairwoman Foxx (R-NC), Rep. Hinojosa (D-TX), Rep. Fredrica Wilson (D-FL), Rep. Miller (D-CA), Rep. Bonamici (D-OR), Rep. Brooks (R-IN), Rep. Bishop (D-NY), Rep. Davis (D-CA)
Rep. Wilson spoke on her successful 5,000 Role Models program in Miami that takes boys from low income and disadvantaged backgrounds and mentor them from Elementary school until High School and promote college attendance as part of their focus.
Dr. Anderson, the Chancellor of Fayetteville States University in North Carolina, spoke on programs that his university has put in that address the needs of low-income students. L
  • CHEER (Creating Higher Expectations for Educational Readiness) 

    • Students that are conditionally accepted receive summer counseling and take necessary courses in the summer.

    • Students in the program have higher retention and graduation rates.

    • The McNair Scholars Program

      • TRIO funded and focused on addressing underrepresented males

      • Provides students with research opportunities, mentorship programs, and professional skill development.

Some of the requests from the panel were for:

  • Year round Pell grants

  • A tailor made ratings system that takes into account the needs of non-traditional /low-income students

  • Simplifying financial aid to be one application only

  • TRIO eligibility applications be simplified to follow Pell eligibility

    • If eligible for Pell, then eligible for TRIO

Points from the Congressional Members:

  • Rep. Bonamici -There is a necessity to get to students while they are still in high school and instill a desire to continue on to higher education

    • Peer mentoring should be a big component

    • Rep. Foxx - Career counseling centers where students can turn to Alumni for guidance and internship opportunities

    • Rep. Foxx - There is a need for measurable outcomes, a data analysis initiative

Link to hearing: http://edworkforce.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=367572Center for American Progress: "Making College Affordable and Creating Value for Students: Accountability and Postsecondary Education Reform”
Senators Shatz (D-HI) and Murphy (D-CT)introduced a College Affordability & Accountability Bill.

How can we increase access and affordability for students?

Main discussion points:

  • Students at an average are graduating with $26,000 in debt, they are seeing less work-study programs, and less Pell grants.

  • It is taking students extremely long to get degrees and the United States is falling behind the rest of the world (the US is now 12thin producing college graduates)

  • There is a need for legislation that attaches accountability to affordability

How do we measure institutions and their progress?

  • Sen. Murphy stated: We have to be careful when addressing this. If we are only focused or look only at retention and graduation rates, then, many institutions that serve low-income/non-traditional students will push those students out in order to comply with those rates.

  • We also don’t like the status quo (part-time students are graduating at a 16% rate) – we need a new model.

State disinvestment in higher education institutions is a problem that is being felt. States have reduced funding from 5-10% to universities.

  • If we tie accountability to affordability, then it would cause state legislators to think twice about reducing funding.

The Center for American Progress has hired a group of experts to study the unintended consequences of the proposed rating-system and the main objective now is to look at new models that address the major issues in college affordability.

Link to event: http://www.americanprogressaction.org/events/2014/01/23/82771/making-college-affordable-and-creating-value-for-students-accountability-and-postsecondary-education-reform/ 

Juliet Haydar, Federal Relations