The House and Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittees, which oversee the most critical spending bill for community colleges, are expected to draft their respective Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 bills shortly. It is important that members of Congress hear from their constituents about key community college funding priorities. Our colleges are currently receiving an extraordinary amount of national attention and, with your help, we can capitalize on that.
When communicating with your Congressional delegation, you should emphasize those programs of greatest importance to your institution. However, members need to hear about our shared priorities and how they impact your campus. Community colleges are the main constituency for the Community-Based Job Training Grants and the Strengthening Institutions (Title III-A of the HEA) programs. Therefore, if members of Congress do not hear from community colleges about these programs, they are not likely to hear about them at all. We ask you to communicate the following priorities to your members of Congress:
1) Provide $250 Million for the New Career Pathways Innovation Fund or the Existing Community-Based Job Training Grants
Community colleges strongly support the Community-Based Job Training Grants (CBJTG) program, which funds partnerships of community colleges, business, and workforce investment boards seeking to train workers for high-demand, high growth industries such as health care, advanced manufacturing, and energy.
The Administration proposes to modify this program and rename it the Career Pathways Innovation Fund. Although full details are not available yet, it is expected that the new program will focus on supporting community college training capacity and programs but the emphasis will be on funding career pathway programs. While the president’s FY 2010 budget would increase funding to $135 million, or $10 million more than is currently funded, AACC is seeking to increase the level to $250 million. Community colleges badly need this infusion of resources to address the local and national workforce training needs.
2) Provide $100 million for the Strengthening Institutions Program (Title III-A of HEA)
Title III-A provides critical support to institutions that serve high proportions of low-income and historically under-represented populations. 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. In order to allow these institutions to continue to provide educational opportunity for thousands of students and to prepare our future workforce, Congress should increase funding for the Strengthening Institutions Program by $20.0 million, to $100 million.
3) Raise the Pell Grant Maximum to $5,550
Pell Grants are essential to providing access to higher education for low-income students. The program now serves approximately 7 million students annually, 70 percent of whom come from families with incomes of $20,000 a year or less. Pell Grants enable more than 2 million community college students to enroll each year by helping with tuition, books and equipment, and living expenses. AACC applauds the Appropriations Committees and President Obama for increasing the Pell Grant maximum in FY 2009 and urges Congress to increase the Pell Grant maximum to $5,550 in FY 2010.
4) Provide $1.4 Billion for Career and Technical Education
The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act programs provide critical workforce development funding. Community colleges use these grant funds for a variety of purposes, including innovative occupational education curricula; helping students meet challenging academic and technical standards; training first responders; purchasing equipment; supporting professional development; and strengthening links between institutions and businesses. We urge Congress to help us meet the demands of the workforce and the economy by appropriating $1.4 billion for career and technical education.
5) Support Higher Education Programs
Community colleges strongly support the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (Title V), Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI), and the TRIO and GEAR UP programs.
We encourage you to contact your Congressional delegation via phone, facsimile or e-mail (mailing letters is too slow). To identify your members, please click here to use AACC's CongressWeb feature.
Also, please send to AACC copies of any communications that you send to your Representative or Senator.
It is always best to use examples of how these funds are used on your campus and how your students and community would be adversely impacted if your college lost this funding.
Thank you for your assistance with this critical matter.
For more information, please contact Laurie Quarles, Legislative Associate, 202/728-0200, ext. 249; or
Jim Hermes, Senior Legislative Associate, ext. 216.