02.07.17

Committee Democrats Outline Higher Education Priorities at Hearing

WASHINGTON –  Today, the Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing to discuss our nation’s higher education systems, and the need to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). Democrats remain committed to a bipartisan reauthorization of the HEA, and they believe quality higher education must be accessible and affordable to empower America’s working families to succeed in our economy.

“Democrats remain committed to a higher education system that has multiple pathways to attaining a meaningful credential that is not necessarily a four-year on-campus degree; but we also remain committed to protecting access to a four-year on campus degree for any person qualified and desiring of one,” said Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03). “That will likely take a sustained, increased investment of resources. And while I understand that many members claim we don’t have the money to commit to higher education, we need to recognize the fact that taxpayer money spent on higher education is a vital investment in our nation’s security and workforce.”

“Higher education is the issue of our time,” said Susan Davis (CA-53), ranking member of the Higher Education Subcommittee. “We need the best-educated workforce in the world to compete in today’s global economy. Now more than ever, high school students and their families feel that college is out of reach. Those who are able to graduate from college are so saddled with debt that they’re forced to push back buying a home, a car, or building credit to engage in our economy in a healthy way. Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act must maintain our nation’s commitment to ensuring an opportunity to a quality and affordable degree for all.” 

Dr. José Luis Cruz, President of Lehman College of the City University of New York (CUNY) served as the Democratic witness at the hearing. Dr. Cruz emphasized the importance of investing in higher education, innovation, and equity for all students, particularly individuals who have been traditionally underserved by colleges and universities.

“I believe that we can make it not only possible, but probable that more low-income students and students of color can rise to the middle class, paving the way for less inequality, more social mobility, and better overall prosperity in America,” stated Dr. Cruz in his written testimony. “And I believe that the best way to do this is by applying an equity-lens to the policies and practices that shape the work of higher education institutions across our nation and targeting resources to those two-year and four-year public institutions that have demonstrated the capacity to transform lives and communities.”

A successful reauthorization of the HEA will be bipartisan and will make higher education more accessible, and affordable for most students, and will help them complete their degrees and move on to succeed in the workforce in a timely manner.

FACT SHEET: Higher Education By-The-Numbers

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