This morning, José Luis Cruz, an Ed Trust board member and former member of our OASIS network, testified at a Congressional hearing on the opportunities and challenges facing higher education. It was the first hearing of this Congress on higher education issues and raised many issues for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to work on this year.

Cruz used the opportunity to highlight a few ways to make the nation’s higher education system more equitable by better supporting and serving underrepresented and low-income students. In particular, he highlighted three issues Ed Trust has worked on:

  • Investing in the Pell Grant program and strengthening its buying power, which has decreased significantly since its inception and is forcing low-income students to disproportionately borrow more to pay for college;
  • Renewing state investments (which have decreased by 20 percent since 1990), while simultaneously demanding improved completion rates (especially among underrepresented students); and
  • Improving the quality of data available to (1) prospective students who are trying to make informed decisions about their educational pursuits, (2) institutions that are tracking progress and targeting improvements, and (3) federal and state governments that are designing incentives to improve performance.

All of the witnesses at the hearing — as well as members on both sides of the aisle — talked about the need for improved accountability in higher education, which is a long-standing priority for us. We are excited to work with policymakers, advocates, and institutional leaders to advance these issues during the 115th Congress.

Cruz’s full testimony is here.

Photo credit: Rodney Choice