Access and Completion Priorities
- Support funding directed toward states in their efforts to align P-12 and higher education curricula, standards and assessments to ensure that students are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in postsecondary education and the workforce.
- Boost appropriation levels for Title III of the Higher Education Act, which supports the development and strengthening of Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Predominantly Black Institutions; American Indian Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities and Alaska Native and Hawaiian Serving Institutions; Asian-American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions; and Native American Serving Institutions.
- Boost funding of Title V of the Higher Education Act, which supports the development and strengthening of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) in order to address the nation’s changing demographics and increasing enrollments at HSIs.
- Support legislative changes and/or technical corrections to the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 in order to make procedures simpler and more transparent, as well as standardize benefit processing in accordance with accepted higher education practices. In particular, support efforts to replace separate payment charts for tuition and fees created by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)—in which the VA calculates and caps tuition and fee charges separately—with a combined tuition and fee chart conforming to standard higher education billing practices.
- Ensure that veteran students receive their full education benefit entitlement for military service, irrespective of other forms of financial assistance. Collaborate with appropriate stakeholders to oppose any proposals to make the VA the “payer of last resort” for veterans’ educational benefits. Making the VA the payer of last resort will take away benefits veterans have already earned through service to their country and create roadblocks in their path to higher education. Payer of last resort provisions will also result in further confusion and increased administrative burden for colleges and universities serving veteran students.
- Support an equitable increase in the $7/student fee paid by VA to institutions for processing veteran student benefit certifications. This fee has not been increased in over 30 years. Given the complexity and multiplicity of presentday veterans’ education benefit programs, $7/student does not adequately cover the time-consuming procedures required by VA—let alone provide assistance to properly advise and counsel veteran students.
- Support clarification of existing federal immigration law to allow states to determine the tuition status of qualified dependents of undocumented immigrants. AASCU believes that states’ authority over tuition policy must be preserved and respected.
Access and Attainment
Access to college means ensuring that all students who wish to pursue a higher education have the opportunity to do so, regardless of their socioeconomic, demographic, geographic or academic backgrounds. It includes the opportunity to earn admittance, experience a supportive environment during their studies, and graduate from college prepared to succeed in the workplace and participate as a citizen of the world.
While institutions and state and federal governments play a role in ensuring that the path to college is as smooth as possible for all students, state and federal governments are particularly vital to ensuring equal access to college. The states and federal government, in partnership with the nation’s P-12 system, have a responsibility to focus the most effective strategies for access and inclusion on the precollege years and work to reduce barriers in the transition from secondary to postsecondary education.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has begun to implement the new Post 9/11 GI Bill Program. AASCU is actively monitoring this implementation and the effect it is having on veterans and campuses. This past year, AASCU was asked to testify before Congress on this very issue. As Congress continues to revamp and review the implementation, AASCU will remain actively engaged in discussions with policymakers, advocating for positive change that will reduce confusion and lead to a more simplified process.
In his fiscal year 2010 budget, President Obama proposed the creation of an Access and Completion Fund. AASCU developed an alternative that would direct funds to institutions based on the number of Pell-eligible students enrolled. Although the funding for this program did not materialize, AASCU continues to explore funding opportunities and avenues for this initiative. Looking forward, the Congress will be reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and examining immigration reform. AASCU will work to strengthen teacher development programs in order to ensure that high school graduates are college-ready, not only with an understanding of curricula, but also armed with the skill sets needed to achieve college success.