Higher Education

The rising cost of a college education is squeezing millions of students and families who rely on access to an affordable education to compete in the 21st century job market and to preserve their quality of life. As the cost of college outstrips middle class Americans' ability to pay, too many students are forced to take on high loan debt burdens and work long hours that interfere with their academic study.


A successful reauthorization of the Higher Education Act will make higher education more accessible, affordable for most students, and will help them complete their degrees and move on to success in the workforce in a timely manner.

House Democrats are committed to making higher education accessible for all students.


  • Access programs like TRIO and GEARUP are necessary to ensure that all students have access to a quality higher education regardless of race or socioeconomic status.
  • Pell Grants remain the foundation of the federal investment in higher education, making college more affordable for 8.4 million low-income students.
  • Simple changes to the Pell Grant program could expand how many students have access to higher education.
  • While non-traditional higher education programs will be helpful for many students, we must make sure that students ready to take on the rigor of a four-year university education have exposure and access to it.

House Democrats will fight to make higher education more affordable for all students.


  • The growth in college costs has driven down the purchasing power of federal student aid, making more students reliant on loans to fund their higher education.
  • House Democrats will fight to strengthen the Pell Grant so fewer students are reliant on loans, and lower the interest rates on existing and future student loans.
  • We support the simplification of repayment programs and reforms to the process which would result in lower default rates and more manageable payments for borrowers.
  • States must continue to invest in their public higher education institutions. Federal funds should not be used to compensate for state disinvestment.

House Democrats are focused on solutions that help all students complete their higher education on time with a meaningful degree or credential.


  • The problems today’s students face when trying to complete on time – juggling school and full-time work, finding child care, covering transportation costs – will require new, innovative solutions.
  • The America’s College Promise Act (H.R. 2962) requires states to take on evidence-based institutional reforms designed to improve student outcomes such as completion and transfer rates, with particular emphasis on low-income, first-generation, adult, and other underrepresented students.
  • A return of Year-round Pell Grants has significant potential to help millions of students get out of college faster and into the job market.
  • States must continue to innovate within their public colleges and universities, explore new opportunities to decrease time-to-graduation, increase completion rates, and lower student debt.

Key Legislation:

America's College Promise Act of 2015 

Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act 

Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Key Documents:

CRS Report on the Bank on Students Emergency Refinancing Act

Tips on how to apply for federal student loans and grants »

Ryan-Republican Budget Harms Nation's Future and Economic Recovery »

The Economics of Higher Education, from the Treasury Department »