GOP denies NMC grads college options

Dec 17, 2017

After a 13-hour markup on Tuesday, the Education and the Workforce Committee passed a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act,  H.R. 4508. Approved along strict party lines, the “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act” will make college more expensive and gives for-profits unprecedented access to student aid funds. I offered an amendment to the bill that would provide federal funds for community college graduates in the Northern Marianas and American Samoa, the only two areas in the country without four-year institutions, to make up the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at public colleges and universities across the country. Most students in these two territories who want more than a two-year degree must leave to further their education. Although two Republican committee members voted in favor of my amendment along with all Democratic members, it was narrowly defeated 19-21. I plan to continue working on the proposal before the Higher Education Act is ultimately reauthorized. In all, 40 amendments were offered by Democrats during markup in an attempt to improve the Republican bill, nearly all of them voted down. Highlights among the Democratic amendments:

·         Pell Grants – increases the maximum Pell Grant award, makes Pell Grant funding completely mandatory, and indexes Pell Grants to inflation.

·         FAFSA Simplification – simplifies the Free Application for Federal Student Aid process to ensure increased completion and maximum benefit to low-income students and families

·         Public Service Loan Forgiveness – reinstates program to allow eligible borrowers who work in public service to have their student loans forgiven after 10 years of payments

·         Student Loan Refinance – allows students to refinance student loans at the same low rates offered to new borrowers

·         Teacher Assistance – restores Teacher Quality Partnership Grants and TEACH Grants, two programs eliminated in H.R. 4508

·         Campus-Based Aid – strikes repeal of FSEOG for very low-income students, reauthorizes Perkins Loan Program, and improves Federal Work Study program

·         Minority Serving Institutions – increases allowable uses of existing MSI programs and establishes multiple programs to support MSIs and their students

·         America’s College Promise – provides tuition- and fee-free community college programs

·         Community College Student Supports – provides grants to community colleges to improve degree completion

·         Students with Disabilities – improves higher education access for students with disabilities

·         Child Care – increases federal funding for campus-based child care

·         DREAM – makes DREAMers eligible for Federal Student Aid

·         Campus Sexual Assaults – strikes provisions that negatively impact efforts to address sexual assaults on campus