Thursday, September 17, 2009

Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility passes House

The U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 3221, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, this afternoon by a vote of 253 to 171. The vote occurred largely on a party-line basis.

As you know, the bill contains the community college initiative in Title V, which is an historic federal investment in community colleges. The bill also includes guaranteed increases in the Pell Grant maximum, and changes in financial aid, such as simplifying the FAFSA form. Funding is available for these initiatives and others in the bill, by requiring that all institutions begin participating in the Direct Loan program by July 1, 2010. There has been an estimated $80 billion cost savings over 10 years from moving to the Direct Loan program.

On the floor, House Education and Labor Committee chairman George Miller, D-CA, offered an amendment that includes limiting the quantitative benchmarks that colleges that receive grants must set and meet. The amendment also includes language that says in order for States to receive funding under the community college initiative, they must establish and implement comprehensive articulation agreements.

Another amendment that passed on the floor ensures that colleges that received funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA, are not denied facilities funding under the bill. The House did reject amendments that would have stripped the community college initiative and construction funds from the bill.

Now that the full House has passed the bill, the Senate will introduce their version of the bill, which could be as early as next week. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act heads to House floor

This week, H.R. 3221, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009, will be brought to the House floor for a vote. This landmark legislation contains the American Graduation Initiative, the $12 billion initiative proposed by President Obama and focused on community colleges. This is the largest single Federal investment ever made in community colleges.

H.R. 3221 also includes the following:

- $6.3 billion in grant funding to community colleges over the next ten years;

- $2.5 billion in facilities funding, made available on October 1, 2010;

- Guaranteed annual increases in the Pell Grant maximum, to ensure that it continues to grow faster than inflation;

- Guaranteed funding for Hispanic-Serving Institutions;

- Simplification of the application form and process for Federal student aid

Friday, September 4, 2009

Federal address to nation's students

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities continually work on closing the achievement gap and providing access to students who want to further their education. President Barack Obama is delivering a similar message to students, administrators and teachers next week.

At 11:00 a.m., Central Time, September 8, 2009, President Barack Obama will deliver a national address to the students of America. During this special address, the president will speak directly to the nation’s children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school. The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.

The U.S. Department of Education invites students of all ages, teachers, and administrators to participate in this historic moment by watching the president deliver the address, which will be broadcast live on the White House Web site and on C-SPAN at 11:00 p.m., CT. We also encourage educators to use this moment to help students get focused and inspired to begin the new academic year. The Department of Education offers educators a menu of classroom activities—created by its teachers-in-residence, the Teaching Ambassador Fellows—to help engage students in the address and stimulate classroom discussions about the importance of education.

To learn more, please visit this site.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Senator Franken visits system office, emphasis placed on students

U.S. Senator Al Franken, DFL- Minn., visited with the Leadership Council of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Monday, August 31. The focus of the discussion centered around serving students. Campus presidents told Senator Franken what was unique about their institutions and explained that Minnesota State Colleges and Universities serve students differently- some students may transfer between two year and four year institutions, others are taking classes at multiple locations and many are non-traditional, some going back to school after facing unemployment. There was also discussion about how the federal government could better structure financial aid to serve the system's unique learners. Senator Franken said he learned valuable information at the session, which he hopes to bring back to Washington, D.C. He is a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee; the Judiciary Committee; the Committee on Indian Affairs, and the Special Committee on Aging. After the August recess, the HELP committee is expected to begin work on higher education legislation.