CounterCurrent: Week of 02/05/2024
It is no surprise that House Democrats have responded—rather quickly—to the Republican led House Committee for Education and the Workforce’s proposed College Cost Reduction Act or CCRA.
I wrote to you last week regarding the CCRA, and now bring your attention to the Roadmap to College Student Success. This initial package of seven bills aims “at making college more affordable, improving access to high-quality programs and supporting students once they are in school,” according to Inside Higher Ed.
The Roadmap consists of three pillars: affordability, access, and student support. Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia, senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, is spearheading the initiative to “make community college free, double the Pell Grant and fight food insecurity among postsecondary students.”
Scott, along with other committee Democrats, feel the Republicans’ CCRA falls short of ensuring student success, whether the student plans to attend a four-year program, two-year program, or career education program. For instance,
The Democrats’ plan would give low-income students more financial aid up front and make the first two years of community college free for eligible students. The America’s College Promise Act, introduced in October and part of the road map, also would waive two years of tuition and fees for eligible students at tribal colleges and universities, historically Black colleges and universities, and other minority-serving institutions.
Additionally, the Roadmap includes legislation called the Lowering Obstacles to Achievement Now (LOAN) Act which would raise the maximum Pell Grant from $7,395 to $14,000 over the next five years. The LOAN Act would not only cap the interest rate of federal student loans at 5 percent, but also allow for undocumented students to receive federal student aid—a wonderful use of government funding. Also included in the Roadmap is the College Transparency Act, which “modernizes the college reporting system for postsecondary data by providing accurate reporting on student outcomes such as enrollment, completion, and post-college earnings across colleges and majors, while ensuring the privacy of individual students is securely protected.”
The Roadmap is not yet complete, as the Democrats are expected to add to it, nor will it likely pass out of the Republican-led House Committee when it is complete, but it signals a potential direction for their higher education platform ahead of elections this year. The effectiveness of both the CCRA and the Roadmap is uncertain, especially considering the anticipated resistance from members of opposing parties. Personally, I doubt that increased government oversight and regulation will lower college costs, since both fail to address administrative bloat within higher education.
As platforms and policies regarding higher education are offered up from both sides of the aisle, the National Association of Scholars will be sure to keep you apprised of how and what they will change regarding the future of academia. Until then, keep a weather eye on the horizon.
Until next week.
CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by the NAS Staff. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.