WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the House Committee on Education and Labor released H.R. 4674, the College Affordability Act, a bold bill reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. The College Affordability Act includes 15 bills supported by Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05).
This once-a-decade comprehensive overhaul of the United States’ higher education system makes significant improvements focused on lowering the cost of college for students and families, improving the quality of higher education, and expanding opportunity for students of all backgrounds.
“It is deeply gratifying to be a part of the reforms I so desperately needed as a student, to give a new, more diverse generation of students the support they need to succeed,” said Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. “I’m proud that this bill embraces and reflects my priorities in Congress - the College Affordability Act expands Pell, incentivizes free community college, and drives states to reinvest in their public institutions. I look forward to considering this legislation in Committee and then on the floor of the House of Representatives.”
The 15 Hayes bills included in the College Affordability Act are:
H.R. 4108 Jumpstart on College Act (Co-Lead): Under the Jumpstart on College Act, the Department of Education would award grants to partnerships between institutes of higher learning and local education associations to assist with dual enrollment and early college high school programs for low-income and other under-represented demographics. These grants would last for six years and would see the student from middle school through the beginning of their collegiate careers.
H.R. 4288 Teacher Diversity and Retention Act (Co-Lead): This legislation authorizes two grant programs to strengthen the recruitment pipeline and teacher training programs. The first would enable Minority Serving Institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions, to apply for funds to establish or revamp programs to recruit and retain diverse teachers. The second would help expand teacher training programs enabling dual certification or including socio-emotional learning, special education, and behavioral management training.
H.R. 4298 Pell Grant Restoration Act (Co-Lead): Presently, students are entitled to 12 semesters of Pell Grants. However, while those who were scammed by for-profit-colleges and used their semesters at places such as ITT Tech and Corinthian can have their loans restored, they cannot reacquire those Pell semesters. The Pell Grant Restoration Act gives those students the chance to have their eligibility restored.
H.R. 4647 Teacher Debt Relief Act (Co-Lead): Under federal law, educators are eligible for some debt relief after five years of work as a teacher from the Stafford Student Loan Forgiveness Program. However, the law forbids simultaneous enrollment in the general Public Loan Service Forgiveness program, leading to teachers being forced to work an additional ten years in order to qualify for full relief. The Teacher Debt Relief Act fixes this oversight by allowing teachers to enroll in both programs concurrently, making paying off debt and staying in the classroom a more achievable reality.
H.R. 3662 Relief for Defrauded Students Act (Co-Sponsor): The Relief for Defrauded Students Act of 2019 strengthens students' ability to receive loan forgiveness if they were misled by a higher education institution. This bill provides a quicker, fairer process for students to reclaim their loan payments.
H.R. 4578 BETTER TEACH Grants Act (Co-Sponsor): TEACH Grants provide upfront grant aid to students interested in serving in high-needs school districts in in-demand fields, such as mathematics, science, and special education. The BETTER TEACH Grants Act makes more teachers available for the program, increases data collection, and streamlines the creation of a single form to expedite grant application processes.
H.R. 2168 Restoring Education & Learning (REAL) Act (Co-Sponsor): In 1994, the Higher Education Act was amended to remove Pell Grant eligibility for those incarcerated in state or federal facilities. This has resulted in a dramatic drop in educational resources in prisons, programs which are proven to reduce recidivism. The REAL Act restores Pell Grant eligibility for students that have been incarcerated.
H.R. 4206 Student and Taxpayer Protection Act (Co-Sponsor): Until it was eliminated by the Trump Administration in 2016, the gainful employment rule set clear standards of accountability and transparency for all programs at for-profit institutions and non-degree programs at public and private, non-profit institutions with a track record of leaving students with mountains of student loan debt and inadequate job prospects. This legislation codifies the rule into law.
H.R. 4371 The Strengthen CTE in Higher Education Act (Co-Sponsor): This legislation would authorize the creation of a five-year, $181 million grant program aimed to foster greater investments in postsecondary Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. It also specifically increases funding for tribally controlled postsecondary CTE institutions by $10.5 million. Under the bill, additional funding is distributed to institutions of higher education who established partnerships across the education and workforce system to carry out CTE programs of study.
H.R. 3232 Young Farmer Success Act (Co-Sponsor): The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is a debt relief program currently offered to a number of professions including teachers, nurses, and other public servants. The Young Farmer Success Act extends eligibility to farmers seeking loan forgiveness.
H.R. 4308 Cost Assistance Made Possible for Undergraduate Students (CAMPUS) Act (Co-Sponsor): The CAMPUS Act authorizes a new competitive grant program to help institutions provide students with emergency funds when a financial emergency directly impacts or threatens their ability to stay in school. It seeks to ensure that unexpected financial burdens such as sudden illness, loss of employment, or transportation emergencies do not hold students back from pursuing or completing their degrees.
H.R. 4670 Simplifying Student Loans Act (Co-Sponsor): The Simplifying Student Loans Act will overhaul the student loan repayment system by replacing the numerous existing current student loan repayment plans with one fixed repayment plan and one income-based repayment plan, which will have more generous repayment terms for borrowers and help them avoid default. Borrowers in income-based repayment plans have better outcomes, lower monthly loan payments, and are less likely to default on their student loans.
H.R. 4680 Equitable Student Aid Access Act (Co-Sponsor): This bill simplifies the qualifications for receiving the Pell Grant by awarding the full amount to any student whose family qualifies for certain means-tested benefits, and would raise the income threshold for qualifying for the full Pell to $34,000 and indexing to inflation – ensuring that our most vulnerable students have access to the resources they need.
H.R. 1766 College Transparency Act (Co-Sponsor): The College Transparency Act produces new data on program-level college student outcomes like graduate earnings and loan repayment to uncover and remedy systemic, long-standing racial and socioeconomic inequities in our postsecondary education system. It would create a more just system that ensures colleges serve all students well by requiring timely and accurate student information that both counts all students and is disaggregated.
H.R. 4639 Pell Grant Sustainability Act (Co-Sponsor): The maximum Pell Grant now covers the smallest share of college cost it ever has. With Pell Grants becoming less valuable each year, the more than seven million students who depend on them are less able to afford to tuition. The Pell Grant Sustainability Act bill ensures federal resources for college students keep up with current costs by indexing Pell Grants to inflation.
Additionally, the College Affordability Act includes the following provisions which Congresswoman Hayes has strongly advocated for:
- Closes the 90-10 loophole, which perversely incentivizes for-profit institutions to aggressively recruit and potentially defraud veterans and service members
- Increases and permanently funds Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, and other Minority Serving Institutions
- Strengthens campus-based aid and supports reducing food and housing insecurity, helps homeless and foster youth, and better supports students with children
- Increases funding for TRIO and GEAR UP programs to help individuals with disadvantaged backgrounds and help them enroll in college
- Improves Pell Grants by increasing the maximum award by $500 to give students more money to pay for college
- Makes campuses safer by blocking Betsy DeVos’ misguided Title IX rule
Rep. Jahana Hayes has been a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year. Currently serving her first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District.