Democrats Unveil Legislation to Boost College Completion

WASHINGTON – TODAY, Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), the ranking member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53), the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, joined Reps. Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Grace Meng (NY-06) and other House Democrats in introducing the Remedial Education Improvement Act and the Community College Student Success Act. These two bills will help ensure students complete their higher education in a timely and affordable manner.

“Too many obstacles still stand in the way of students and their ability to complete a higher education program,” said Ranking Member Scott.The Remedial Education Improvement Act and the Community College Student Success Act will help us identify and fund effective remediation strategies and provide comprehensive student support. These two bills will be particularly helpful for the most under-resourced institutions where many of our low-income students and students of color enrolled. Congress must pass both of these bills so that we can enable more students to go to college and complete their degree programs in an affordable way.”

These bills are a part of House Democrats’ Aim Higher initiative, which proposes policy solutions to make higher education work for all students and their families.

“While having an opportunity to go to college is critical, being able to finish college is just as important,” said Ranking Member Davis. “For too long, our most vulnerable students have slipped through the cracks of our education system. With these bills, students who need additional supports can find the resources they need to succeed in school and life.”

Many students entering college today are the first in their families to ever attempt a postsecondary degree or credential. Yet, 1 in 3 undergraduate students enters college academically unprepared and is required to take remedial coursework. In addition, far fewer students ever make it to graduation. In 2011, first-time, full-time students seeking an associate degree who took remedial education courses were 12 percent more likely to drop out of college. In comparison, their bachelor degree-seeking peers who also took a remedial course were 74 percent more likely to drop out. The Remedial Education Improvement Act would ensure students are moving to credit-bearing courses and being best served by institutions. Reps Donald Norcross, Seth Moulton (MA-06), and Tim Walz (MN-01) introduced this bill.

“Students that require extra training are not offered a fair shot right now and this bill provides a comprehensive strategy to change that,” said Rep. Norcross. “My bill aims to make developmental education more effective and less expensive. Every student learns differently – for me, it was a technical training program that shaped my career. We’re all different types of learners and, as lawmakers, we must ensure we’re providing fair opportunities for all students to learn, succeed and end up with a degree and good-paying job.”

The Remedial Education Act devotes needed resources to new and scalable programs to reform remediation,” said J. Noah Brown, President and CEO of the Association of Community College Trustees. “Supporting these evidence-based reforms will help community colleges as they strive to serve the needs of a diverse student population. We thank Representatives Norcross, Moulton, and Walz for their support of this important issue.”

While remedial education is one way to address the completion problem, we must also provide students with comprehensive support. The Community College Student Success Act will remove barriers to completion by providing students with academic, financial, and personal support— such as access to tutoring, childcare, transportation, and course materials—to complete their degrees. Reps. Grace Meng, José Serrano (NY-15), Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), and Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) introduced this bill.

“The Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), a program that first began at the City University of New York and that was piloted in my district at Queensborough Community College, has been a demonstrable success for our students,” said Rep. Meng. “I’m proud to introduce the Community College Student Success Act to help community colleges around the country develop and implement programs modeled after ASAP to improve degree completion. The ASAP program in Queens nearly doubled the three-year graduation rate of students completing an associates’ degree, and also increased the number of students who went on to complete a bachelor’s degree. These figures speak for themselves. Let’s encourage our students to aim higher with programs, like ASAP, that is proven to work.”

“Getting a post-secondary education is critical for students to successfully navigate today’s 21st-century economy,” said Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, the Vice President for Social Policy & Politics at Third Way. “But far too often, students who start college fail to complete with a meaningful degree, especially non-traditional students who face barriers to attending school full-time. That is why Congress should be making every effort to invest in and expand programs with proven track records of boosting college completion rates. We commend Rep. Meng and the other Members of Congress for their leadership in introducing the Community College Student Success Act to ensure that more students can have the opportunity to get both to and through college.”

Organizations supporting the Remedial Education Improvement Act: Center for American Progress (CAP), Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), Campaign for College Opportunity, Student Veterans of America, American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Third Way.

Organizations supporting the Community College Success Act: Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) at the City University of New York (CUNY), Community College Research Center (CCRC), State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO), The Education Trust, American, Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), National College Access Network (NCAN), American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), Third Way, Hispanic Association for Colleges and Universities (HACU), Young Invincibles, National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), Rebuilding America’s Middle Class (RAMC), Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).

The Remedial Education Improvement Act

The Community College Student Success Act

FACT SHEET: The Remedial Education Improvement Act

FACT SHEET: The Community College Student Success Act

SECTION-BY-SECTION: The Remedial Education Improvement Act

SECTION-BY-SECTION: The Community College Student Success Act

Press Contact

Arika Trim (Scott), 202-226-0853
Aaron Hunter (Davis), 202-225-2040
Ally Kehoe (Norcross), 202-225-6501
Genevieve Morton (Meng), 202-225-2601