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House Bill Would Modernize Higher Education & Address Challenges Facing Today’s Students

Moments ago, Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-03) introduced the College Affordability Act, an expansive higher education bill addressing many of the challenges facing today’s college students, including affordability, data transparency, and institutional accountability.

Following the introduction of the College Affordability Act, Kyle Southern, Policy and Advocacy Director for Higher Education and Workforce for Young Invincibles, issued the following statement:

“It’s been 11 years since we reauthorized the Higher Education Act, and we’re past due for a comprehensive update of the law to ensure every student — regardless of race, income, or any other factor — has access to an affordable college education. Studies show that a higher education is more important than ever to open up pathways to economic opportunity for young adults. But with the country buried under $1.6 trillion in student debt, today’s students need Congress to step up and ensure they can pursue the education they need without taking on debt that will follow them for years to come.

The College Affordability Act offers practical solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing today’s students, such as increasing the maximum Pell grant amount and tying Pell to inflation rates, which will help cover college costs for students who need it most. It also moves toward a more equitable higher education system by restoring Pell eligibility for students who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Meanwhile, it gives undocumented students and students with Temporary Protected Status access to financial aid, ensuring that immigration status won’t put higher education out of reach for otherwise-qualified students. And it dramatically increases funding for CCAMPIS, which will help student-parents get on-campus child care so they can focus on their studies without the additional stress of affording stable care for their children.

Today’s young people are the most diverse generation in history, and they can’t afford to drown in debt as Congress stalls on fixing our broken higher education system. We look forward to working with other advocates and members of Congress to ensure legislation that reflects the needs of today’s students becomes law.”

Among other proposals included in the bill, the College Affordability Act would:

  • Increase the maximum Pell grant by $500 and re-index Pell to rates of inflation
  • Increase the lifetime number of academic terms in which students can receive a Pell grant from 12 to 14, including toward graduate school after completing an undergraduate degree
  • Promote access and affordability by establishing a cost-sharing model across state and federal funds to cover tuition and fees at community colleges
  • Simplify the process of applying for federal financial aid and streamline the repayment process for student loans
  • Enable undocumented students to access Pell grants, as well as students covered by Temporary Protected Status
  • Restore Pell eligibility to students who have been impacted by the criminal justice system
  • Create an emergency fund for students through the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
  • Quadruple funding for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS) while strengthening requirements for program quality
  • Rescind the ban on student-level data and establish an integrated data system to enable students, families, researchers, and policymakers to better understand student college outcomes while protecting sensitive information