The College Affordability Act: What Our Partners and Allies Think

Washington, D.C. — Recognizing the desperate need for accountability for predatory institutions and presents real affordability solutions for future college students, this week the House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) officially released legislation aimed at establishing those solutions.

Dubbed the “College Affordability Act,” this bill’s positive elements include provisions that would allocate more funding and lower the cost of education for future students. Additionally, it would place a much-improved system of accountability for institutions of higher education. In particular, the attention paid to the Gainful Employment and Borrower Defense rules and closure of the 90-10 loophole represent significant improvements.

Looking to the future, it is clear that the crisis facing student loan borrowers is significant and requires bold solutions. Forty-three million adult Americans, including one in three young adults (25- to 34-year-olds), have student debt that totals more than $1.5 trillion.

Partner organizations in the Higher Ed, Not Debt campaign, will keep advocating for legislation from Congress that helps borrowers by working towards broader and bolder solutions to the student debt crisis. To that end, the solutions presented in this bill are important steps in the right direction.

See what we and our partners have to say about the College Affordability Act.

The full statements by organizations are accessible via hyperlinks.

Center for American Progress Vice President for Postsecondary Education, Ben Miller

“In the decade that has passed since Congress last reauthorized the Higher Education Act, states have slashed funding for higher education, more students are having to take on debt loads that have soared nearly 25 percent, and oversight bodies have uncovered rampant wrongdoing at many of the nation’s for-profit colleges. The College Affordability Act lays out a bold vision for tackling many of these challenges—from implementing a state-federal partnership to spur new state funding to strong accountability measures. This bill shows the importance of a comprehensive solution to our nation’s biggest challenges in higher education.”

Center for American Progress Associate Director for Postsecondary Education, Antoinette Flores 

“As the Trump administration is working to unwind already inadequate monitoring of the nation’s college accrediting agencies, we are particularly encouraged to see this bill adopt measures we’ve called for to ensure that accreditors are helping all students receive a high-quality education that meets their needs and are strengthening the department’s oversight efforts—protecting both students and taxpayers.”

Generation Progress Executive Director, Brent J. Cohen

“Generation Progress appreciates the seriousness with which the House has approached accountability fixes and the leaps in the right direction for future students that this bill provides. We are heartened to see a clean repeal of the ban on Pell grants for incarcerated students, and we hope that this repeal will remain a priority as the bill moves forward. With bold action and legislation that builds on the foundation set by this bill, we can make a strong dent in this crisis and a huge impact on the lives of current and future borrowers.”

The Education Trust Vice President of Higher Education, Wil Del Pilar

“We welcome the introduction of the College Affordability Act by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott. This bill is the most comprehensive proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) this Congress, and it advances the long-overdue conversation on higher education reforms. The College Affordability Act would make a down payment on ensuring the Pell Grant – the federal need-based aid program that millions of low-income students and students of color rely on each year to attend college – makes college more affordable. We are particularly pleased to see that it would expand Pell Grants to Dreamers and repeal the ban on Pell Grants for students who are incarcerated. The bill would also increase and renew permanent funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) that is currently blocked in the Senate, increase evidence-based supports to help students complete college, and simplify the FAFSA to increase access to federal financial aid.”

Third Way Senior Vice President for the Social Policy & Politics Program, Lanae Erickson

“Higher education is one of the biggest investments someone can make in their lifetime, but a decade-old version of the Higher Education Act (HEA) is no longer delivering on its promise to provide students a return on their investment. Less than half of students who start college make it across the finish line, and those who start and don’t complete are three times as likely to default on their loans, making debt and no degree a reality for far too many Americans.”“We believe the College Affordability Act, introduced by House Education & Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), represents a huge step forward toward delivering real value to students and taxpayers, as well as restoring the initial promise of the law to give all students the opportunity to access the economic benefits postsecondary education affords.”

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