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Sen. Alexander’s Higher Education Proposals Ignore Student’s Most Pressing Needs

Earlier today, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) outlined a series of piecemeal bills to address a variety of challenges facing students as they struggle throughout the process of applying for, affording, and completing a higher education. The proposals would impact the FAFSA, Pell Grant applicant eligibility, and how Pell awards can be spent, among other proposals.

However, Sen. Alexander has outlined these bills while simultaneously blocking the FUTURE Act, a bill that would renew $255 million in annual funding for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs).

In response to the outline of Sen. Alexander’s proposals, Rachel Fleischer, Executive Director of Young Invincibles, released the following statement:

“Students have been waiting for a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act for 11 years, and what Senator Alexander outlined today is simply not the reform they’ve been waiting for. This piecemeal approach fails to address some of the most pressing issues facing today’s students. 

Abandoning a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act is deeply disappointing to the millions of students struggling to afford tuition that has skyrocketed by 30 percent in the last decade. We need a comprehensive reauthorization of the HEA that actually addresses the biggest challenges facing today’s students — including affordability. Sen. Alexander clearly has no interest in tackling these big problems, so he’s kicking the can down the road while students continue to struggle to afford a higher education.

We’ve known for years that there is common ground to stem the rising tide of the student loan crisis, and we’re glad to see that Senator Alexander is seemingly open to exploring solutions that young people need. We are eager to continue to work with him to improve widely-supported, bipartisan proposals to help young people get the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves regarding if and where to enroll in college and ensure returning citizens can take full advantage of the opportunity to get a higher education.

But Sen. Alexander’s holding funding for HBCUs and MSIs hostage to pass this watered-down package of bills is simply unacceptable. We join our allies in calling for Sen. Alexanders to let the FUTURE Act get a vote in the Senate and ask him recommit himself to passing a reauthorization of the HEA that gives students the support they need and deserve.”