• Graduate Education

    Federal Policy Priorities

    • Support the continued funding of federal programs targeted to ensure access to graduate programs for underserved populations.


    While some AASCU institutions offer doctoral programs, most of AASCU members offer Master degree programs. As such, financing and sustaining access to these programs is a part of AASCU’s policy agenda. Graduate education provides students with the opportunity to engage in a specific academic area on a much deeper level. These programs help to support a well-educated society a key for economic prosperity. Further, the research pursued in these programs often help to propel the development of new technologies and improved products.

    The federal government has funded several programs that supports continued development of graduate education as well as provide access to needy students. The Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) provides funding to institutions to support students with superior academic ability pursuing a graduate degree in an academic area of national need. Institutions participating in this program must also establish policies and procedures for attracting students from traditionally underrepresented populations. Similar to GAANN, the McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement program under the federal TRIO program supports access for low-income, underrepresented students to doctoral programs. In 2012, the Department of Education reprogrammed TRIO funds in such a manner as to reduce the McNair program funding level by $10 million. AASCU opposed this change.

    One area of recent concern has been the elimination of subsidized federal loans for graduate students. Prior to passage of the 2011 Omnibus Appropriations Act, graduate students were afforded subsidized federal loans in order to pursue their higher degree. As a result of the Act, the federal government ceased offering loans where the federal government paid the accruing loan interest while the student was studying for a graduate degree. The savings from this provision was directed toward the Pell Grant Program. While placing a high priority on the Pell Grant Program, AASCU is becoming increasing alarmed at the Congress’ propensity to take from one federal student aid program to fund another.