The Austin Community College District Board of Trustees recently endorsed the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) and Association of Community College Trustees’ (ACCT) 2020 federal legislative priorities. Campus Operations and Public Affairs EVP Dr. Molly Beth Malcolm and Trustees Nan McRaven, Nicole Eversmann, and Julie Ann Nitsch, are in Washington, D.C., this week to meet with our federal delegation in support of these policy initiatives as a part of the 2020 AACC/ACCT National Legislative Summit.
ACC’s federal policy priorities include:
SHORT-TERM PELL GRANTS
ACC seeks to establish eligibility for shorter-term programs to qualify for Pell Grants. Currently grants less than 600 hours and/or 15 weeks are ineligible. Changes would allow for short-term training programs for students to quickly increase skills and earning potential. It also would enable more individuals to access training in high-need fields.
INCREASE THE PELL GRANT MAXIMUM AWARD
ACC seeks to boost the maximum grant and provide annual inflationary increases to assist low-income students with tuition and fees and all other college expenses. Increasing the maximum award also helps diminish the cost of attendance for low-income students and reducing their need to borrow.
SECOND CHANCE PELL GRANTS
ACC seeks to partner with correctional institutions to offer postsecondary programs for incarcerated individuals. Currently, they are prohibited from using Pell Grants for tuition, fees, and course materials. By investing in correctional facility programs, it reduces prison costs, recidivism, and reduces unemployment rates of returning citizens.
SUPPORT STATE INVESTMENTS IN LOWERING THE COST OF COMMUNITY COLLEGE
ACC seeks to ask Congress to create a federal-state partnership to enhance college affordability or create a tuition-free community college. The federal investment should require states to increase their support of postsecondary education.
ENHANCE TRANSPARENCY AND DATA
ACC seeks to create a national student unit record data system that can accurately track completion and transfer rates. The system could also follow students between institutions and reflect the actual course of community college students.
SUPPORT STUDENT ACCESS AND SUCCESS
ACC seeks to increase the Pell Grant maximum award in FY 2021 while protecting the program's reserve fund. Funding increases should also be provided for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Work-Study, TRIO, GEAR UP, and Child Care Access Means Parents in School programs.
STRENGTHEN UNDER-RESOURCED INSTITUTIONS
ACC seeks to increase funding for institutional aid programs, including Minority Serving Institutions and other programs serving traditionally underrepresented populations.
BOLSTER JOB TRAINING AND CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION
ACC seeks to increase funding for Perkins Career and Technical Education programs, Adult Basic and Literacy Education State Grants, and state grants under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Congress should also provide dedicated community college funding to expand job training programs in in-demand industries.
ASSIST STUDENTS IMPACTED BY THE DACA RESCISSION
ACC seeks to enact the Dream Act to Provide Dreamers with Permanent Legal Status. The Dream Act provides a path to citizenship for undocumented young people, including the thousands of students currently enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Dream Act is needed to enable them to reach their full potential.
SOCIAL SECURITY FAIRNESS
Though not part of the national AACC/ACCT legislative agenda, the ACC Board of Trustees also voted to add support for the Social Security Fairness Act to the college’s list of legislative priorities. The Social Security Fairness Act (H.R. 141) would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset, which have both resulted in reduced Social Security benefits for millions of government and public-education employees over the prior four decades. Should this bill pass, it would have no fiscal impact on the college and would benefit some ACC employees.
For more information about ACC's public-policy agenda, contact Dr. Molly Beth Malcolm, ACC Campus Operations and Public Affairs executive vice president, at 512-223-7638 or Chris Cervini, ACC Community and Public Affairs associate vice president, at 512-223-7619 or firstname.lastname@example.org.