Press Release

College Affordability Act advances long-overdue conversation on higher education reforms

WASHINGTON (October 15, 2019) – Wil Del Pilar, vice president of higher education at The Education Trust, issued the following statement on the College Affordability Act, which House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced today:

“We welcome the introduction of the College Affordability Act by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott. This bill is the most comprehensive proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) this Congress, and it advances the long-overdue conversation on higher education reforms. The College Affordability Act would make a down payment on ensuring the Pell Grant – the federal need-based aid program that millions of low-income students and students of color rely on each year to attend college – makes college more affordable. We are particularly pleased to see that it would expand Pell Grants to Dreamers and repeal the ban on Pell Grants for students who are incarcerated. The bill would also increase and renew permanent funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) that is currently blocked in the Senate, increase evidence-based supports to help students complete college, and simplify the FAFSA to increase access to federal financial aid. Additionally, it would strengthen important consumer protections, including the requirement that career education programs lead students to gainful employment in a recognized occupation (gainful employment rule), the right of students to have their loans canceled when their college closes or misleads them (borrower defense to repayment rule), and the limit on the amount of federal revenue for-profit colleges receive (90/10 rule). These are critical improvements, and ones that we and other stakeholders have called for since the last reauthorization of the Higher Education Act over a decade ago.

“While these improvements are foundational, we believe even more must be done to advance a system of higher education in this country that is student-centered and that promotes racial and socioeconomic equity. Congress should build on this proposal by making large enough investments in the Pell Grant program to restore its purchasing power, and it must drive more federal and state resources toward historically underserved students. Additionally, any reauthorization of HEA must create a system of greater institutional responsibility, in which institutions are given the resources and time to improve student outcomes – which are essential to providing students with the quality education they need and deserve – and face serious consequences if they fail to serve students well when given the chance. We must continue to invest in and advance equity so that our system of higher education ensures opportunity and leads to positive outcomes for underrepresented students of color and students from low-income families. We look forward to working with the committee on these issues as the bill moves through the legislative process.”