CAPAC Priorities for the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act in the 116th Congress

Issues: Education

I. Improve College Affordability

Federal Pell Grants and Work Study

  • Include language assistance for FAFSA and any other documents related to financial aid. (Meng)
  • Increase the maximum award level of Pell grants so they better align with the rising cost of higher education. (Takano) 
  • Index Pell Grants to inflation. (Roybal-Allard)
  • Revise the formula used to allocate work study funds based on student need and Pell Grant aid. (Bonamici)
  • Increase funding for Federal Work Study at institutions that enroll high levels of Pell grant recipients. (Bonamici)
  • Improve access to work study opportunities aligned with academic study and career interests for low-income students. (Bonamici)
  • Establish additional funding for students that complement Pell grants. This funding would cover costs of living (food, housing, transportation, etc.) and non-tuition educational costs (books, fees, etc.). (Takano)
  • Restoration of Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated people. (Schatz)
  • Maintain year-round Pell availability. (Roybal-Allard)
  • Provide new Pell Grant eligibility for short term training programs offered at community colleges. (Duckworth)
  • Simplify FAFSA by allowing data from other federal agencies (such as IRS) to be used in the application to reduce the number of questions. (Duckworth)
  • Strengthen the financial data sharing agreements between the Department of Education and the IRS. (Duckworth)

Federal Student Loans 

  • Reduce the student loan debt burden for borrowers past, present, and future.
  • Protect the Grad Plus Loans and Parent Plus Loans programs. 
  • Protect the Income Based Repayment Program.
  • Improve student loan counseling to help students borrow wisely and manage debt repayment. 
  • Restructuring the Federal Student Aid office to serve students better. Automate recertification of borrowers’ incomes while they are enrolled in income-driven repayment plans using information on file at the Department of Treasury. (Bonamici)
  • Automate enrollment into income driven plans for borrowers who are severely delinquent on their loans. (Bonamici)
  • Automatic verification of totally and permanently disabled borrowers’ continued eligibility for a loan discharge during the three-year monitoring period. (Bonamici)
  • Automatic enrollment of defaulted borrowers in an income-driven repayment plan upon completion of loan rehabilitation. (Bonamici)
  • Protect students from institutions that engage in predatory practices by codifying the borrowers defense to repayment rule. (Takano)
  • Protect students from low-quality programs by holding institutions accountable and codifying the gainful employment rule. (Takano)
  • Work with states to create programs that incentivize them to invest more funding into financial aid for low income students and programs that otherwise help low income students access and succeed in college. 
  • Require that post-secondary institutions use language in financial aid offers that clearly indicate which components of the package are loans. (Takano)

II. Strengthen the Capacity of HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions

  • Protect current investments and statutory programs as well as increase federal funding for Minority Serving Institutions and HBCUs. (CAPAC)
  • Provide increased and sustainable support and funding for the AANAPISI Program to help underserved students overcome barriers to a college degree, including by increasing funding authorization for the AANAPISI Program to $60 million. (CAPAC)
  • Establish a post-baccalaureate grant program for AANAPISIs that already exists for other MSIs. (CAPAC)
  • Provide robust and sustainable support and funding for the Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions Program by authorizing an increased level of funding. (Case)
  • Authorize permanent mandatory funding for HBCUs and all MSIs as currently defined in HEA. (CAPAC)

III.        Improve Education Quality and Student Success

  • Encourage and expand access for low-income students to dual enrollment, early college, and similar programs in high schools. (Takano)
  • Promote improved coordination of community colleges and four-year institutions to ensure ability to transfer credits between institutions.
  • Consider developing an incentive program within Title IV to reward institutions that increase graduation rates of Pell students, ensuring no penalty to institutions that educate low-income students.
  • Promote positive school climates on campuses and decrease hate crimes by requiring institutions to report policies and programs to decrease harassment of students.
  • Maintain provisions that prohibit institutions from engaging in agreements with financial institutions that predatorily market financial products to students.
  • Develop accountability metrics that protect students from predatory for-profit educational institutions.
  • Address the 90/10 loophole to protect Veterans from predatory for-profit educational institutions by moving the ratio to 85/15. (Takano) 
  • Incentivize institutions to create support programs to ensure students graduate on time. (Meng)
  • Encourage institutions to establish an accessibility office to support mental health services for students. (Takano)
  • Allow students with disabilities to use their existing documentation of a disability (IEP, 504 plans) to access accommodations at institutions of higher education. (Bonamici)
  • Strengthen grant programs within HEA to assist institutions of higher education (IHEs) in establishing or developing minority student support centers, specifically for immigrant, minority, and undocumented students. (Roybal-Allard)
  • Create a program modeled on the federally-funded DC Tuition Assistance Grant providing tuition assistance for graduates of Northern Marianas College and American Samoa Community College who want to pursue a four-year degree at any public university in other parts of the United States. (Sablan)
  • Maintain integrity and accountability of gatekeeping system for Federal accreditation and State licensure policies. (Duckworth)
  • Increase funding for federal Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program to meet student-parents’ need for affordable childcare. (Duckworth)
  • Authorize the creation of Native American language revitalization program that awards grants for Native American language programs appropriate for the population served at institutions that serve American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians or Native American Pacific Islanders. (Sablan/Case)

IV. Promote College Readiness for Students of Color, First Generation Students and Disadvantaged Students

  • Increase funding and strengthen GEAR-UP, TRIO, HEP-CAMP and other federal funded college access programs to help minority students, low-income students, students who would be first-generation college students, and students who are English language learners access and complete college.
  • Ensure that GEAR-UP, TRIO, HEP/CAMP and other federal funded college access programs are reaching schools predominantly attended by low-income students, minority students, students who would be first-generation college students, and students who are English language learners. 
  • Maintain GEAR-UP, TRIO, and HEP/CAMP as separate federal programs.
  • Continue to provide information to low-income high school students through existing federal college access program on how to navigate the financial aid process and estimate actual cost of attendance.
  • Continue to support programs that provide financial literacy and financial aid counseling to low-income, minority, first generation, and English language learner students.
  • Establish funding that supports English Learner Educators. (Davis)

V. Increase the Recruitment and Retention of Teachers of Color

  • Expand high-quality recruitment programs for minority teachers at both the undergraduate and graduate levels through financial assistance, including loan forgiveness, and technical support. (CAPAC)
  • Reauthorize the Augustus Hawkins Centers of Excellence.
  • Require teacher preparation programs to report the pass rate and average score of students taking state teacher performance assessments, and the number of students in the program, by race, ethnicity, and gender. (Davis)
  • Include language that prioritizes teacher preparation programs that recruit and retain students of color, and programs that recruit student to teach into high-need shortage fields such as English Learner or bilingual teachers (Davis)

VI. Support Graduate Student Access, Affordability, Quality, and Student Success

  • Support increased funding for graduate programs at HBCUs and MSIs. (CAPAC)
  • Expand eligibility for the Subsidized Stafford Loan Program to students enrolled in graduate programs. 
  • Reauthorize and strengthen Title III and Title V HBCU and MSI graduate programs and the Patsy Mink Fellowship Program.

VII.  Support Access, Participation, and Success for Undocumented Youth

  • Allow Dreamers and otherwise undocumented students to apply for financial aid under FAFSA to protect them from loan servicer and fraud abuse.
  • Permit Dreamers and otherwise undocumented students to be eligible for Pell Grants, federal student loans, work study and federally funded college access programs.
  • Require post-secondary institutions to give in-state tuition to Dreamers and otherwise undocumented students who reside in the state of the institution.
  • Allow Dreamers and otherwise undocumented students to participate in GEAR UP and TRIO programs. (Roybal-Allard)

VIII. Improving Data systems in Postsecondary Education

  • Create a student level data network of all racial groups, racial subgroups, and ethnicities as recognized in the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to ensure schools are being held accountable to relevant and useful measures. 
  • Disaggregate undergraduate, graduate, and professional school enrollment data by all racial groups, racial subgroups, and ethnicities as recognized in the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (Chu). 
  • Adjust the criteria of students tracked through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) so that it captures more community college students and includes part time students, non-first-time students, and students with an intent other than seeking a degree. (Duckworth)