The New Democrat Coalition – a group of 52 “democratic, pro-growth, innovation-focused lawmakers” – this week released a proposal outlining its higher education priorities to help drive a discussion as Congress begins work on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.
The group’s policy priorities attempt to address issues in college access and affordability, workforce preparation and alignment, and accountability. The group advocates for a revival of the year-round Pell Grant, for example, to increase the “buying power” of the federal grant program. The proposal also suggests permanently extending the Federal Perkins Loan Program, encouraging states to expand financial support for DACA-eligible students, and codifying initiatives that allow students to complete the FAFSA earlier.
“Education beyond high school – whether it is a short term certificate program or a traditional degree program at a two- or four-year college – is key to lifting people into the middle class and must be accessible and affordable to all,” said Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), in a statement. “It will take innovative ideas to bring down the cost of college for students and families and prepare a highly-skilled workforce.”
The Democratic lawmakers also outline proposals to reduce the burden of student loan debt, such as streamlining and simplifying the process of enrolling in income-driven repayment plans, and allowing borrowers to refinance their federal student loans.
“College degrees open a world of opportunity for people in the United States. When students can afford a higher education they’re able to start chasing their dreams immediately after graduation without the crushing burden of student debt,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), in a statement. “Expanding access to college will help more Americans find success in life and strengthen our nation’s workforce.”
Publication Date: 9/19/2016