The congressional appropriation process is now underway and there’s lots of news about the Higher Education Act (HEA). Read below to learn more about how to support the federal investment in CTE by contacting your Representative about signing a “Dear Colleague” letter and how Congress and President Trump are focusing in on HEA .
Contact your Representative to Support the Federal Investment in CTE by March 22
Representatives Langevin (D-RI) and Thompson (R-PA), co-chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus, will be sending a “Dear Colleague” letter to the Chairwoman, Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member, Tom Cole (R-OK) of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies respectfully encouraging that they consider strong funding for Perkins. Please contact your Representative to encourage them to sign on to the letter by visiting ACTE’s Take Action page and scroll to “Ask Your Representative to Sign Perkins Funding Letter” and click “Take Action.” You can also find your representative, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be connected to their office, and then ask about the Representative’s interest in signing on to a “Dear Colleague” letter to support strong funding for Perkins. Interested Representatives can contact the offices of Representatives Langevin (D-RI) or Thompson (R-PA) to sign on. The deadline to sign on is 5pm Eastern Time on Friday, March 22.
White House Releases Proposal for Higher Education Reform
On March 18, the Trump administration released its principles for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), led by Ivanka Trump, Advisor to the President. The administration seeks to “increase access to affordable, flexible, and innovative postsecondary education and skills attainment.” The following goals were outlined:
- Reorient the Accreditation Process to Focus on Student Outcomes;
- Increase Innovation in the Education Marketplace;
- Better Align Education to the Needs of Today’s Workforce;
- Increase Institutional Accountability;
- Accelerate Program Completion;
- Support Historically Black Colleges and Universities;
- Encourage Responsible Borrowing;
- Simplify Student Aid;
- Support Returning Students and
- Give Prospective Students More Meaningful and Useful Information about Schools and Programs.
Advance CTE will continue to monitor efforts in Congress to reauthorize HEA and provide updates.
Congress Introduces Higher Education Legislation
On March 14, Senators Kaine (D-VA) and Portman (R-OH) reintroduced the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act. This legislation would expand Pell Grant eligibility to high-quality short-term postsecondary programs. Eligible short-term programs would have to be at least 150 clock hours over at least eight weeks, meet local or regional labor market needs, articulate to institutional credit and provide students with a recognized postsecondary license, certification or credential.
Also on March 14, Senators Cassidy (R-LA), Warren (D-MA), Scott (R-SC) and Whitehouse (D-RI) reintroduced the College Transparency Act. This legislation would create a student-level data network within the National Center for Education Statistics and promote transparency and accuracy in postsecondary student data.
On March 12, Senators Kaine and Collins (R-ME) reintroduced the Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals (PREP) Act. This legislation aims to help address teacher and principal shortages, particularly in rural areas.
Advance CTE is proud to support all three of these bills, and will continue to advocate for legislation that reflects our HEA recommendations.
Congress Holds First HEA Hearings of 2019
The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee held its first HEA hearing this year on “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Simplifying the FAFSA and Reducing the Burden of Verification.” Chairman Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Murray (D-WA) agreed that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be simplified to be more accessible.
The House Committee on Education and Labor also held its first of five announced HEA hearings on “The Cost of College: Student Centered Reforms to Bring Higher Education Within Reach.” In his opening remarks, Chairman Scott (D-VA) share that his goal is to pass comprehensive higher education reform, with a focus on access and affordability. Topics that came up throughout the hearing included improving the purchasing power of Pell Grants, simplifying FAFSA, responding to state disinvestment in higher education, making college more affordable and simplifying student loan repayment.
Kathryn Zekus, Senior Associate, Federal Policy & Meredith Hills, Policy Associate