Raise the Pell Grant maximum by $450, to $4,500
Pell Grants are essential to providing access to higher education for low-income students. The program now serves more than 5 million students annually, 70 percent of whom come from families with incomes of $20,000 a year or less. Pell Grants enable approximately 2 million community college students to enroll each year by helping with tuition, books and equipment, and living expenses.
Bipartisan support for the program remains strong. Increases in the past decade helped to expand college access, raising the maximum grant from $2,340 (FY 1995) to $4,050 (FY 2003). However, funding for this important program has stagnated. The Pell Grant maximum has not been increased for four years, forcing low-income students to work more or borrow more to pay college expenses.
Congress must reaffirm the federal government’s commitment to equal access to higher education to ensure that we meet the nation’s needs for a highly skilled workforce, robust economy, national security, and well-educated citizenry. The $450 increase supported by AACC is also endorsed by the Student Aid Alliance, which represents more than 60 education organizations.
Increase HEA Title III-A Funding to $100 million
Federal funding for Title III-A of the Higher Education Act, the Strengthening Institutions Program, provides critical support to institutions that have few resources and serve high proportions of low-income and historically underrepresented populations. Despite the importance of this program, it has been one of the most under-funded programs in the Department of Education.
Over recent years, the population of low-income students served by these institutions has grown in number and in need, and the resources of these schools have been stretched razor thin. In order to allow these institutions to continue to provide educational opportunity for thousands of students and to prepare our future workforce, it is imperative that Congress increase funding for the Strengthening Institutions Program by $20.5 million, to $100 million.
Appropriate $1.5 Billion for the Perkins Basic State Grant Program
The Basic State Grant of the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act is a key source of workforce development funding. Despite Administration assertions to the contrary, the Perkins Act has been highly effective at the postsecondary level. Community colleges use these grants for a variety of purposes, including innovative occupational education curricula; helping students meet challenging academic, vocational, and technical standards; training first responders and public safety officers; purchasing equipment; supporting professional development; and strengthening links between institutions and businesses. The Act also includes accountability measures that require states and local recipients to track the success of students in participating programs.
For the fourth straight year, the Administration is proposing to cut funding for vocational education programs – this year proposing to eliminate them altogether. At a time when our colleges are counting on an increased investment to help meet the demands of the workforce and the economy, cuts would seriously undermine their capacity. We urge Congress to appropriate $1.5 billion for the Perkins Basic State Grant Program.
AACC supports continued funding for the Tech Prep program. Tech Prep focuses on building seamless pathways from high school to postsecondary education. Students learn skills needed to succeed in careers that are currently in demand.
Increase Funding for the Community-Based Job Training Grants (CBJTG) Program
Community colleges strongly support the Community-Based Job Training Grants program, which funds partnerships of community colleges, business, and workforce investment boards seeking to train workers for high-demand occupations. Community colleges badly need this infusion of resources for the training capacity challenges that hinder their ability to train more workers. AACC urges Congress to appropriate $250 million for this much needed program.
Restore Funding for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to the FY 2002 Levels
WIA is the primary vehicle through which the federal government, working with states and local entities, provides job training and other employment-related services. The system shows enormous promise through its integration of a variety of job-training activities, and many community colleges have capitalized on this system. However, the law can succeed only with greater investment by the federal government. AACC urges Congress to provide funding levels equivalent to the FY 2002 levels enacted for the major programs funded through this Act: $1.55 billion for dislocated workers and $950 million for adult workers.
Increase support for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPS) to $25 million
The Child Care Access Means Parents in School program supports the participation of lowincome parents in postsecondary education through the provision of campus-based child care services. Presently there are more than 1,400 on-campus child care centers for the children of students, which estimate they are only able to meet 10 to 25 percent of the demand for services. Expanding access to on-campus childcare will help increase access to postsecondary education for low-income students.
The Administration’s request to fund the Child Care Access Means Parents in School program at $15.8 million in FY 2007 is disappointing. Student persistence may be adversely affected without affordable child care. Therefore, we encourage Congress to restore CCAMPS funding to its FY 2001 level of $25 million.
AACC Contact: Laurie Quarles, Legislative Associate, firstname.lastname@example.org; or David Baime, Vice President of Government Relations, email@example.com