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News & Media

APLU Statement on the College Affordability Act

October 15, 2019

Washington, DC – Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson today released the following statement after the House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott announced introduction of the College Affordability Act.

"APLU appreciates the hard work and commitment of the House Education and Labor Committee in developing the College Affordability Act and its willingness to engage public universities. As we continue to read through this comprehensive legislation, it’s clear the bill would take some key strides toward making college more affordable and protecting students, but that it also misses the mark in a few important areas. We look forward to working with Congress to strengthen the bill as it advances through the legislative process.

“The legislation includes some critical provisions that would boost affordability and transparency of higher education for students. As examples, APLU strongly supports the increase to the maximum Pell Grant and the extension of the expired mandatory inflation adjustment to ensure the power of Pell doesn’t diminish. The elimination of loan origination fees is also a laudable way to cuts the cost of student borrowing.

“We strongly commend Chairman Scott for including the College Transparency Act in this bill. APLU advocated for the introduction of College Transparency Act because it’s critical that students and their families are armed with accurate data to make informed decisions. The data would also help colleges and universities assess their own performance and improve. With the inclusion of CTA in the House bill and HELP Committee Chairman Alexander’s cosponsorship of the legislation in the Senate, the bill has support from the respective chairs of both the House and Senate committees.

“Unfortunately, the bill is not all good news. APLU has long advocated for a federal-state partnership to encourage states to reinvest in all of public higher education, not just parts of it. While the College Affordability Act’s federal-state partnership provisions would help ensure increased state funding of community colleges, it leaves out four-year colleges and universities, which educate the majority of students who attend public institutions. Community colleges and four-year public institutions both play an important role in educating students and providing ladders of economic opportunity. As states respond to funding incentives in the bill and shift new investments accordingly, students at four-year public universities could feel negative impacts.

“Although the bill attempts to hold four-year institutions harmless by requiring that states maintain existing levels of funding, flat funding should not be the goal. This is particularly the case for four-year public institutions that are still far behind historic levels of state support. Overall, after adjusting for inflation, 45 states are spending less per-student than in 2008. An HEA reauthorization should lift all public colleges and universities and the students we serve.

“APLU looks forward to continuing to work with Congress to strengthen the legislation.”

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