The American Association of Community Colleges and the Association of Community College Trustees lead national funding and policy advocacy for the nation's community colleges.
2013 Community College Federal Legislative Priorities
To view additional background information on any of these issues, please click here.
To download our "Green Sheet" of the below priorities, please click here.
Strengthen Workforce Development
Congress should reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) this year, prioritizing the role that community colleges play in educating American’s workforce. This should be achieved, in part, by authorizing the Community College to Career Fund, ensuring that community colleges are members of state and local workforce investment boards, and making public institutions of higher education automatically eligible as training providers. Additionally, the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) is a critical component of addressing adult literacy issues. Community colleges serve as key providers and, in some cases, as state administrators of AEFLA funding. Support for this program should be enhanced.
Improve the Higher Education Act
In reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA), Congress needs to focus on the unique mission and contribution of community colleges. Incentives and support should be given to institutions and students alike to ensure credential attainment. Completion measures must fully incorporate the transfer and workforce development missions of community colleges. Federal student aid programs should continue to provide support for a wide range of students, including eligibility for part-time students and reestablishment of the year-round Pell Grant. Regulatory costs must be substantially reduced. The loan programs must reflect that not all community college students are strong candidates for borrowing. Hence, the default rate measures are often unrepresentative of institutional performance.
Enhance the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act
In reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act, Congress should maintain program flexibility, allowing community colleges to effectively tailor funds to address local needs, while strengthening CTE programs. The reauthorization should enhance provisions in current law that provide students with clear pathways to college and career readiness, and strengthen the ties between educational institutions and local businesses. Perkins, WIA and other federal accountability reporting requirements should be identical across programs wherever appropriate.
Help Community Colleges Serve Veteran Students
Community colleges need additional support in their traditional and essential role of assisting both veterans and active duty service members. Congress must ensure that veterans receive comprehensive counseling and related services about all educational options and fund the Centers of Excellence for Veterans Success in the HEA. Community colleges support balanced efforts to protect military and veteran students by providing them with needed information to make sound educational decisions.
Pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act provides a path to legal status for thousands of undocumented students who were brought to this country as children, worked their way through high school, and now face an uncertain future. The DREAM Act returns to states the decision of whether to extend in-state tuition to undocumented students. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was a step in the right direction, but Congress must now finish the job of allowing these students to be full contributors to our economy and society.
Improve the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
As Congress reauthorizes this key education statute it needs to consider the critical role that community colleges play in supporting the nation’s K-12 system. Community colleges look to partner with the federal government to offer more dual enrollment programs and early college high schools for targeted populations. Their prominent role in teacher preparation should be better supported through the ESEA. Additionally, Congress should focus on effective implementation of national college and career readiness standards that will help reduce the need for remedial education and improve student time-to-degree.
Maintain the Pell Grant Program and Restore Eligibility for ATB Students
Pell Grants assist 3.35 million low- and moderate-income community college students each year by helping them meet tuition, course material, and living expenses. Total aid to community college students exceeds $11 billion annually. The program must be sustained without any further limitations in student eligibility. Congress should adopt the Senate Appropriations Committee’s FY 2013 Labor, HHS, Education bill language that restores Title IV eligibility for “ability-to-benefit” students in career pathway programs. However, the bill’s provision that would cut Pell Grants for community college students enrolled entirely in online courses should be rejected.
Preserve the Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT)
The first two years of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act Community College and Career Training Grant Program have proven to be extremely successful. The program delivers high quality, relevant training to TAA-eligible and other workers. It encourages new program delivery and has generated cooperative agreements between institutions and business. Two more years of dedicated funding must remain available.
The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act
The Basic State Grant helps community colleges improve their career and technical education offerings that lead to high-demand, high-skilled occupations. The Perkins Act has tight accountability standards and promotes collaboration between education sectors. Congress should at minimum maintain funding for the Perkins Basic State Grants.
Institutional Aid Programs
Investments in direct institutional aid to colleges that serve disproportionate numbers of minority, low-income and first-generation college students are critical. Congress should continue its support for the Strengthening Institutions, Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges, and Predominately Black Institutions (PBIs) programs.
American businesses face a shortage of workers with requisite skill levels in key areas. The Workforce Investment Act’s job training and adult basic education programs help meet this growing demand by providing education and training to those who can help meet those needs.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)
The National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program is a pillar of support for community college STEM programs. Programs are developed in conjunction with businesses in nanotechnology, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, and many other critical fields.