Statement on the College Affordability Act
Congress must take bold, bipartisan action to improve the quality of higher education, lower the cost of college, expand postsecondary opportunities, and better align funding and programs to prepare students for the 21st-century economy. The College Affordability Act, introduced today by House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott, contains important provisions that would help ensure all students have a path to success after high school. As a bipartisan network of state and district chiefs who lead education systems that collectively serve more than 7 million students, we support the following elements of the proposal in particular:
- Lifting the ban on a student unit record system and creating a secure way of tracking postsecondary outcomes for all graduates, giving educators the information they need to design effective schools and programs and making it easier for students to plan their next step after high school.
- Expanding access to dual enrollment and early college high school programs, giving students the ability to earn tuition-free college credits while still in high school, potentially reducing the need for remedial coursework, lessening the financial burden of college, and increasing the likelihood that students obtain a degree.
- Allowing students to use Pell Grants to pay for short-term programs that help prepare young people for careers in high-growth, high-wage fields.
- Simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, increasing the likelihood that more high school students complete the form, including those who are eligible for means-tested federal financial aid.
- Providing undocumented students with access to federal financial aid for college, which can help give them a pathway to an excellent publicly funded education.
- Supporting expanded teacher residency models, ensuring that educators are adequately prepared for their first day in the classroom.
Now is the time for Congress to come together and approve comprehensive reform that would make a difference in the lives of countless young people all across America. We are pleased that Chairman Scott is moving forward on this reauthorization.