Press Release/Statement | September 9, 2021

Statement on the Build Back Better Act

Author: Statement of Richard Kazis

“The House Education and Labor Committee’s portion of the Build Back Better Act takes a comprehensive approach to making college more affordable. We commend Chairman Scott for its introduction. By creating a new federal-state funding partnership, boosting Pell Grant funding, and investing in evidence-based student success initiatives, the bill also recognizes that new investments in higher education are fundamental to advancing an equitable recovery and ensuring long-term prosperity and competitiveness for the United States.

“The bill includes America’s College Promise, a federal-state partnership to guarantee tuition-and-fee-free community college to all students in participating states for five years, along with direct funding for historically Black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions. Notably, America’s College Promise includes a first-of-its-kind provision to automatically sustain higher education funding during economic downturns.

“The bill also includes $9 billion for state evidence-based retention and completion grants to improve outcomes at institutions that serve a high proportion of low-income students. For the first time, this bill ties funding for higher education interventions to the evidence base of what works to improve student success. These investments are key to ensuring that students can afford not only to enroll in college, but also to complete a credential and to realize the benefits of a college degree.

“The bill recognizes the critical importance of the Pell Grant program by proposing a $500 mandatory funding boost to the maximum award. While this is a welcome increase, lawmakers should go further toward doubling the maximum Pell Grant, which would enable all students to cover college costs without relying on overly burdensome debt.

“Critically, the bill also extends access to federal student aid to immigrants with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a long overdue change.

“We applaud the Committee’s commitment to prioritizing college affordability and closing racial and economic equity gaps in college access and completion rates. We urge the Senate to retain and build on these critical investments as this legislation moves forward.”


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