updated 1.27.19

Federal Issues

Section Index
  • Federal Issues Committee Minutes and Reports

  • NEW -The CCCSFAAA Federal Issues Committee has issued a report outlining the most important issues on the horizon

  • The US Department of Education has recently released a new Dear Colleague Letter containing a 219 page summary of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (Public Law 110-315), enacted August 14, 2008.

  • Beth Asmus has 6 letters thanking officials for their support of the elimination of Pell Tuition Sensitivity in HR 2669.

  • News from Washington, D.C.

    HOUSE PASSES PELL GRANT FAIRNESS LEGISLATION The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation today that would repeal a rule that unfairly reduces Pell Grant scholarship aid for thousands of low-income college students who attend low-cost colleges and universities. The Pell Grant Equity Act, H.R. 990, was introduced by Reps.
    George Miller (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Howard 'Buck' McKeon (R-CA), the Committee's Senior Republican.

    "No student should be shortchanged of the financial aid they need to get a college degree," said Miller. "This legislation will ensure that students get the help they need to cover tuition and other basic – but substantial – costs. This is another step we are taking to expand need-based aid and make college more affordable – a core element of strengthening our nation's middle class."

    "No student should be penalized simply because of his or her choice of where to get an education," McKeon noted. "As we work to expand college access and hold institutions more accountable for their role in the college costs crisis, punishing students who attend low cost schools is neither fair nor rational. I'm pleased we were able to work in a bipartisan way to reform this outdated federal rule."

    Under current law, a provision called "tuition sensitivity" limits the amount of Pell Grant aid eligible students receive annually based on their tuition costs – keeping students who otherwise qualify for a maximum Pell Grant scholarship from receiving the full sum.

    While the Pell Grant scholarship can cover a student's cost of attendance, which is the total sum of tuition and fees as well as books, supplies, transportation, room and board and miscellaneous personal expenses, tuition sensitivity is based on a premise that tuition is the major educational expense facing students, and should therefore determine grant need.

    In reality, for most students, these related education and living expenses often present the greatest financial barriers to attending college. At California's community colleges, where tuition was recently reduced, the tuition sensitivity rule hits students especially hard. The Pell Grant Equity Act would eliminate this provision and restore fairness to the Pell Grant award process – boosting need-based aid for students in the most financial need.

    According to the Congressional Research Service, the Pell Grant Equity Act would benefit approximately 96,000 students in the 2007-2008 academic year, and would provide an average Pell Grant scholarship increase of $108 per student. The bill will provide a one-year fix in order to offer affected students immediate relief. Miller and McKeon said today that the fix will be made permanent when the Education and Labor Committee reauthorizes the Higher Education Act. More than 5 million undergraduate students received a Pell Grant scholarship in FY 2006. Of these recipients, more than 74 percent have incomes below $30,000.

    For more information on the Pell Grant Equity Act, go to http://edlabor.house.gov/publications/PellGrantEquityActof2007onepager.pdf

  • Miller, McKeon Introduce Bipartisan Pell Grant Fairness Legislation Tuesday, February 13, 2007

    Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), the Committee's Senior Republican, today introduced the Pell Grant Equity Act (H.R. 990), legislation to repeal a federal rule that needlessly limits Pell Grant aid for tens of thousands of college students. Known as "tuition sensitivity," the rule reduces the annual maximum Pell Grant for students attending institutions with very low tuition charges.

    " Pell Grant scholarships are a key part of our federal student aid system - helping millions of students in the most financial need get a college education," said Miller. "With tuition costs at colleges around the country soaring, we must continue to expand Pell Grant scholarships - and college access - for low- and middle-income students and their families. Students should not be financially penalized for attending a low-cost school, and colleges and universities should not be punished for reducing their tuition costs. Making college more affordable for all qualified students is a top priority for the new Congress, and it is critical that we ensure that all students and institutions are treated fairly as we work toward this goal."

    " A student should not be forced to sacrifice grant aid because of their choice of one institution over another," said McKeon, who also sponsored this repeal in legislation passed by the House a year ago. " As Congress and the President work to continue improving student aid programs, it's illogical that certain students who may otherwise be eligible for a maximum Pell Grant won't get it simply because of where they go to school. Moreover, repealing this rule takes away an incentive for some low-cost institutions to raise their tuition in order for their students to become eligible for the maximum Pell award."

    The tuition sensitivity rule is estimated to impact between 90,000 and 100,000 students each year, with the Congressional Research Service estimating that these students are losing hundreds of dollars in grant aid each year. With many California community colleges reducing their cost of attendance beginning with the current semester, the tuition sensitivity rule is expected to have an even more substantial impact for students in that state if not corrected.

  • Dear Colleagues - this is truly a wonderful piece of news - Please take a moment and share your "Support Of" and "Thank You" for with your local legislatures -
    In his 2008 budget to be released on Monday, President Bush plans to call for raising the maximum Pell Grant award by nearly 14 percent, or $550, next year, the biggest one-year jump in the award for low-income students in more than three decades, the secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, announced this afternoon. More information available at http://chronicle.com/free/2007/02/2007020107n.htm.

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