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Community College Leaders Propose Higher Education Policy Priorities

Leaders of eleven Community College systems penned a joint letter to the leading members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House Committee on Education and Labor seeking inclusion of polices in the new Higher Education Act (HEA) that prioritize and strengthen learning at such schools.

Addressed to Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, its ranking member Patty Murray and Bobby Scott, chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor and its ranking member Virginia Foxx, the letter calls for strengthening federal support services for students experiencing barriers to postsecondary access and completion to bridge the opportunity gap.

The letter assumes importance as Congress considers reauthorizing the HEA. The act originally created various financial aid programs for students and allocates resources to colleges and universities across the nation.

College leaders sought more federal funding for community college-business partnerships to deliver valuable educational and career training programs to students and workers.

“Community colleges across the nation work with industries every day to provide high-quality training and academic instruction to future workers,” the letter reads.

“However, Congress has not invested in these community college-business partnerships at a scale that would sustain economic competitiveness since the expiration of the Trade Adjustment Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program in FY 2014.”

It also called on Congress to introduce Pell grant eligibility for working adults and other students who choose to enroll in short-term credit or noncredit programs.

The system leaders sought inclusion of four bills into the new Higher Education Act (HEA) which includes the Jumpstarting our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, College Transparency Act, Gateway to Careers Act and Community College to Career Fund in Higher Education Act.

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