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Washington, D.C., Oct. 16, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Yesterday, Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, and the committee Democrats released an over 1100-page proposal unveiling their ideas for reforming the higher education system. This proposal, known as the College Affordability Act (CCA), includes a number of provisions that have long been championed by UNCF (United Negro College Fund). UNCF applauds Chairman Bobby Scott for his work in presenting a comprehensive proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA).
We express our support for several provisions. Most notability, we would like to highlight that the CCA does the following to benefit HBCUs:
In addition, we would like to highlight a few proposals included in the CCA that benefits low income, first generation college students. Most notably the CCA:
Increases the maximum Pell grant award level by $500 and provides for annual inflationary indexes;
While UNCF is appreciative of the aforementioned provisions, there remain proposals that UNCF would like to continue to work on with Members and staff. For instance, the CCA proposes to increase access to grant aid and federal student loans, but the proposal fails to mention the ability for institutions to limit student overborrowing based on criteria such as program of study. UNCF finds that HBCU students borrow at greater rates, borrow greater amounts, and seek loans from more costly sources while encountering more obstacles when repaying loans. The proposal also repeals the student unit record ban and creates a new data system, but falls slightly short of providing clear assurances that the data being collected will not be misused for accountability purposes, especially as it relates to earnings and job placement data. The bill enhances the accreditation process, but stronger language could be incorporated to ensure that our nation’s HBCUs are treated fairly amongst accreditors.
Furthermore, the proposal seeks to increase institutional accountability by creating a new Adjusted Cohort Default Rate metric consisting of 10, 15, and 20 percent. While UNCF appreciates no mention of a risk-sharing proposal to increase accountability, there are concerns regarding the potential impact of this proposal for HBCUs. FY 2016 Cohort Default Rate (CDR) showed that all eligible HBCUs had 3-year CDRs that fell below regulatory thresholds and no HBCUs were subject to CDR sanctions or the loss of Title IV aid. Under this proposal, it is unclear whether or not the outcomes would be the same.
HBCUs have a strong value proposition and punch well above their weight not only in their impact on their local communities but also in their states by ensuring low-income, first generation college students are prepared to succeed. They also produce skilled graduates for employers and bolster their local and regional economies – as documented in, HBCUs Make America Strong: The Positive Economic Impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
UNCF looks forward to working with Chairman Bobby Scott and the entire House Committee on Education and Labor as a reauthorization of the HEA moves through the House to ensure college affordability and success for our most vulnerable students and the institutions that serve them.
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF awards more than $100 million in scholarships annually and administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a wonderful thing to invest in.”® Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities. Learn more at UNCF.org or for continuous news and updates, follow UNCF on Twitter @UNCF.
Monique LeNoir United Negro College Fund, Inc. (UNCF) 202-810-0231 email@example.com