Washington DC – A Bipartisan Policy Center task force of former lawmakers, college presidents, and academics calls for expanding Pell Grants, a new $5 billion federal matching grant program to incentivize state investment in higher education, and more institutional accountability when it comes to taxpayer dollars as part of an effort to reinvigorate the nation’s higher education system. The budget-neutral package of 45 recommendations is contained within a new report publicly released today, entitled A New Course for Higher Education.
BPC’s Task Force on Higher Education Financing and Student Outcomes is co-chaired by former Reps. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and George Miller (D-CA), both former chairmen of the House Education and Labor Committee.
The report’s release marks the culmination of an 18-month effort, during which members with diverse perspectives and priorities forged bipartisan consensus guided by a shared belief that America’s higher education system needs improvement to meet the needs of today’s students.
At a time when Americans owe $1.5 trillion in federal student loan debt, the national political conversation on higher education has understandably focused primarily on the cost of college and loan forgiveness. In fact, BPC’s national survey found that half of borrowers believe that their student debt has negatively affected their physical or emotional well-being.
However, BPC’s task force points to larger systemic issues within higher education that make college less affordable, hamper access for lower-income students and students of color, and fail to hold colleges sufficiently accountable for student outcomes. A more comprehensive solution is required.
“Rising tuition prices and lackluster labor market outcomes among students send a strong message that it is time to rethink the federal role in higher education and pass thoughtful, bipartisan legislation that moves the needle for students and families,” Miller said. “Our task force has produced commonsense, actionable recommendations that would increase support for low-income and middle-class students, so they are not forced to mortgage their future in exchange for a college degree.”
“Higher education is critical for maintaining an internationally competitive workforce and fostering economic growth,” McKeon said. “Our recommendations strive to improve outcomes for students so they have the skills they need to excel in our 21st century economy.”The task force co-chairs, along with other experts, will discuss the task force recommendations at a BPC event this morning.