The U.S. higher education system must be revitalized as a whole to be accessible, affordable, and accountable to the students it serves.
Access: Whether it’s completing the myriad of confusing financial aid forms, understanding the potential costs of attending college, or navigating a complex system of grants, loans, and other aid, college is often inaccessible for hundreds of thousands of young Americans, especially students of color or first-generation college attendees.
Affordability: With the rising costs of obtaining a higher education degree and almost 47 million Americans currently struggling with debt, college affordability has become a major issue for many students. Especially as a college degree or credential becomes increasingly critical in the labor market, all young Americans should be able to afford to go to college and improve their lives.
Accountability: Given the immense financial investment required to attend college, students should have a clear picture based on sound and easy to understand data about all of the relevant factors that go into deciding to attend a particular institution.
Tell Congress to support student debt cancellation.
Where We Stand
AYA supports legislation that:
- Immediately cancels any and all forms of student debt currently held by struggling borrowers, especially those with the highest debt-income burden.
- Helps first-generation students, low-income families, and non-traditional students attend and complete college or other workforce training programs, including taking courses while in high school.
- Makes the overall costs of college affordable, including tuition, living, and other costs through fully funded grant programs.
- Modernizes and strengthens the financial aid and reporting system to make data about colleges more transparent, accurate about how well institutions are serving their students, and accessible for students and families.
- Strengthens the accountability standards for higher education institutions and provides relief to defrauded borrowers.
Legislation AYA Supports
Student Loan Debt Relief Act
This bicameral bill, introduced by Senator Warren (D-MA) and House Majority Whip Clyburn (D-SC), would cancel up to $50K in student debt per borrower for 75% of the 45 million Americans saddled in debt. Borrowers earning $100K or less will be eligible for the full $50K in debt cancellation, and the cancellation amount will reduce by $1 for every $3 in income above $100K. The legislation also includes additional benefits, such as the ability to convert private loans into federal loans that qualify for cancellation and the ability to discharge student debt in bankruptcy.
College Transparency Act (CTA)
Introduced in the last Congress, this bipartisan bill garnered significant bipartisan support from members of Congress in both chambers. If passed, the legislation would overturn a ban on a federal data system to track employment and graduation outcomes of college students and ensure accurate reporting on student outcomes. In order to protect student privacy, the bill bans the sale of the data, prohibits access by law enforcement, and limits the use of personally identifiable information.
PROTECT Students Act
Introduced by Senators Hassan (D-NH) and Durbin (D-IL), the PROTECT Students Act, would protect students and taxpayers from predatory higher education practices. The key provisions of the will would codify and strengthen the borrower defense and gainful employment rules, improve the 90/10 rule and incentive compensation protections, and add new safeguards against the fraudulent for-profit/nonprofit conversions.
College Affordability Act (CAA)
This is the Ed and Labor Committee’s comprehensive overhaul of our higher education system that would lower the cost of college by reinvesting in higher education, improve the quality of higher education by holding schools accountable for students’ success, and expand opportunities for students from all backgrounds by providing flexible college options and stronger support to meet students’ individual needs.
College For All Act
Introduced by Senator Sanders and Rep. Jayapal, the College For All Act 🌍 would make public colleges and universities tuition-free for working families, and make tuition and fees free at four-year public colleges and universities for families making up to $125,000 (nearly 80% of the population), while also making community college tuition- and fee-free for all. Additionally, the bill would double the maximum Pell Grant.
America's College Promise Act
Re-introduced in 2021 by Senators Baldwin and Murry and House Members Levin and Scott, the America's College Promise Act would create new federal-state partnerships that provide two years of tuition-free access to community or technical college programs and significant tuition and fee grant aid for two years at an eligible four-year year historically Black college or university (HBCU) or minority-serving institution (MSI).
Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act
Reintroduced in 2021 by Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Patty Murray (D-WA), and Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), this legislation would restore the purchasing power of the federal Pell Grant award by raising the maximum award to $13,000 over five years, index the award to inflation, expand access to part-time students, and increase eligibility to 18 semesters.
College Completion Fund (CCF)
The College Completion Fund Act 🌍, introduced by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), if passed and funded by Congress, would establish a $62 billion federal fund to invest in evidence-based student support services to help students from diverse backgrounds complete their degrees.