Washington Watch: Push to bolster higher ed funding

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The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is working on a bipartisan effort to ensure that forthcoming stimulus legislation includes the association’s request for $47 billion in support to respond to COVID-19.  

The effort has received a major boost by the circulation of a “Dear Colleague” letter by Reps. Daniel Lipinski (D-Illinois) and Susan Brooks (R-Indiana), which is addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.  

AACC has endorsed this rare bipartisan effort and is urging its member colleges to ask their representatives to sign on to it. A call or email to your legislators in regards to the Lipinski-Brooks Dear Colleague letter on higher education funding works best in this context. If you have any questions about how to reach your member of Congress, please contact AACC’s legislative staff.  

Over the past decade, many lower- and middle-income Americans have been “priced out” of higher education, according to the legislators’ letter.

“Congress must act to provide strong assistance to students, their families, and institutions of higher education to enable colleges and universities to remain economic engines in their regions and ensure our nation can continue to compete globally by investing in a highly-skilled workforce,” it said.  

The CARES Act took an important first step in providing critical relief and addressing the immediate financial needs of many students, but more investment is needed, the letter continued.

“To meet both existing need and to ensure students and families have the resources to return to college in the fall, we request a $47 billion supplemental appropriations to the Department of Education to be disbursed as formula grants to institutions of higher education,” the lawmakers wrote. 

AACC hopes that the investment supported in the Dear Colleague letter will be included in the next iteration of stimulus legislation. The expected timetable for that bill has shifted, and it now appears to be on a fast track.  

We appreciate your help in convincing Congress to provide greater support for our colleges and students.

About the Author

David Baime
is senior vice president for government relations and policy analysis at the American Association of Community Colleges.