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 Urge Congress to Restore Funding for Community College Priorities 

11/10/2015

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As budget decisions are being made on Capitol Hill, now is the time for community college advocates to press Congress to invest in higher education.

The recently enacted Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2015 has cleared the path to passage of final appropriations for this fiscal year (FY), which started October 1. The BBA is a victory for AACC and higher education generally. It provides additional overall resources for a broad array of programs, including education, job training, science, and many other areas. Meantime, the government is being funded by a temporary “continuing resolution” that expires December 11.

Earlier this year, the House and Senate appropriations committees passed different versions of the key Labor, HHS and Education (LHHS) appropriations bill. Both bills were severely constrained by spending caps enacted in 2011.  In general, the House bill protected higher education and job training programs while making cuts elsewhere, while the Senate bill spread its cuts among a larger number of programs, including many community college priorities. 

Working with the BBA’s higher spending caps, House and Senate appropriators are preparing to reconcile their differing LHHS bills. It is not known how much more money the LHHS subcommittee has to work with, but it is likely several billion dollars.

AACC is asking you—particularly those of you with representatives on the LHHS appropriations subcommittees—to urge Congress to make important investments in human capital. These include maintaining or increasing funding for a variety of programs: the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, TRIO, GEAR UP, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Predominantly Black Institutions, Tribally Controlled Colleges, and the NSF’s Advanced Technological Education Program. Along with expressing support for these programs, AACC asks its members to highlight the following priorities with their federal legislators:

  • Fully Fund the Pell Grant Program: Pell grants are essential to helping low-income community college students succeed.  Currently, more than 3 million community college students rely on the program each year to help pay for tuition, books, fees, transportation, and living expenses. Both the House and Senate LHHS appropriations bills removed approximately $300 million in temporary surplus program funds to support other programs. With the additional resources at its discretion, Congress should restore these cuts and appropriate the FY 15 level of $22.475 billion.  This would allow for a $5,915 maximum grant next July 1, and help stabilize the program.
  • Increase Funding for Adult Basic Education: Adult Basic Education grants are authorized as part of WIOA and help serve 1.8 million participants each year to gain reading, numeracy, and English literacy skills and prepare for the GED.  However, demand for these programs far outstrips supply, as tens of thousands of individuals remain on service waitlists. In FY 2013, funding for this program was slashed and has not substantially recovered. Congress should restore this program to its pre-sequester level of $606.3 million.
  • HEA Title III-A, Strengthening Institutions: The Strengthening Institutions program provides vital support to under-resourced institutions, primarily community colleges, to help them carry out their educational missions. The program helps eligible institutions to become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen their academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability. This support has become increasingly crucial as state support for public higher education has diminished. Community colleges call on Congress to provide $85 million for this program in FY 16.
  • Bar the Department of Education from Implementing the Gainful Employment Regulation:  Both the House and Senate LHHS bills prevent the U.S. Department of Education (ED) from implementing the onerous and costly gainful employment (GE) regulation.  Until Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act (HEA) and sets out its desired policy in this area, ED should be precluded from moving forward with this well-intentioned but problematic rule, which for community colleges involves tremendous expense with small student and taxpayer benefit. 

Contact your representative or senator by e-mail or phone by calling their office directly or through the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Contact information for your legislators is available here.

White House Community College Teleconference: The White House Office of Public Engagement is inviting all interested parties to join a call with James Kvaal, Deputy Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council; Jacob Leibenluft, Deputy Director of the White House National Economic Council; and Ted Mitchell, Under Secretary for Education at 2:15 p.m. (ET) on Friday, November 13. They will discuss efforts to make 2 years of community college free and to upskill our workforce.

In particular, the speakers plan to highlight the relevant ED experimental sites—including the recently announced dual enrollment experimental site and the 1-month deadline for EQUIP applications, for aid to partnership-based education.

Details
·         Time: Friday, November 13 at 2:15 p.m. (ET)
·         RSVP: Click here.
·         Note: This call is off the record and not for press purposes.
Please contact AACC Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Policy Analysis David Baime or Associate Vice President of Government Relations Jim Hermes if you have any questions or need further information.

LHHS Appropriations Subcommittees:
Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee (Alphabetical Order by State)


Richard C.

Shelby

AL

202-224-5744

Brian

Schatz

HI

202-224-3934

Richard J.

Durbin

IL

202-224-2152

Mark Steven

Kirk

IL

202-224-2854

Jerry

Moran

KS

202-224-6521

Bill

Cassidy

LA

202-224-5824

Barbara A.

Mikulski

MD

202-224-4654

Roy

Blunt

MO

202-224-5721

Thad

Cochran

MS

202-224-5054

Jeanne

Shaheen

NH

202-224-2841

James

Lankford

OK

202-224-5754

Jeffrey

Merkley

OR

202-224-3753

Jack

Reed

RI

202-224-4642

Lindsey O.

Graham

SC

202-224-5972

Lamar

Alexander

TN

202-224-4944

Patty

Murray

WA

202-224-2621

Tammy

Baldwin

WI

202-224-5653

Shelley Moore

Capito

WV

202-224-6472

House LHHS Approppriations Subcommittee (Alphabetical Order by State)


Martha

Roby

AL

202-225-2901

Steve

Womack

AR

202-225-4301

Barbara

Lee

CA

202-225-2661

Lucille

Roybal-Allard

CA

202-225-1766

Rosa L.

DeLauro

CT

202-225-3661

Michael K.

Simpson

ID

202-225-5531

Harold

Rogers

KY

202-225-4601

Andrew P.

Harris

MD

202-225-5311

Nita M.

Lowey

NY

202-225-6506

Tom

Cole

OK

202-225-6165

Charles W.

Dent

PA

202-225-6411

Chaka

Fattah

PA

202-225-4001

Chuck

Fleischmann

TN

202-225-3271

Scott E.

Rigell

VA

202-225-4215

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