House Democrats Launch Higher Education Campaign

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), the Ranking Member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, and Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53), the Ranking Member of the Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee, launched “Aim Higher,” a campaign where House Democrats will put forth bold policy solutions to make higher education work for all students.

“For most Americans, education after high school is a necessity, not simply a desire,” said Ranking Member Scott. It means the difference between a minimum wage job that barely keeps one afloat and a job with a living wage, long-term career prospects, and employer benefits that lead to financial stability. As our nation shifts to a knowledge-based economy, employers are looking for individuals with a meaningful postsecondary degree or credential and strong academic, technical, and employability skills.  This is why House Democrats are launching a legislative campaign, Aim Higher, to put forth bold policy solutions to make higher education work for all students.”

House Democrats believe quality higher education must be accessible and affordable to empower America’s working families to succeed in our economy.

“The decades-old promise of the Higher Education Act (HEA) is to expand access and provide an affordable degree to those who had been traditionally underserved by colleges and universities,” said Rep. Davis. “And it is Congress’ responsibility to reexamine federal policy to ensure HEA is living up to this charge. The HEA must empower all students to Aim Higher and fulfill lifelong potential. This means that instead of making college less affordable by slashing billions from federal financial aid programs like the President’s partial budget requested or the proposals we have seen from many Republicans, House Democrats believe that we must invest in our higher education system and focus on access, affordability, and completion.”

Reps. Scott and Davis were joined by Dr. John King Jr., President and CEO of The Education Trust and the former Secretary of Education, Rep. Joe Crowley (NY-14), the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15), the Chairman of the Future Forum.

“We must do more to address access and affordability in higher education, said Dr. King. “But work on affordability must be coupled with a laser focus on completion.  Experience and research make it crystal clear that improving outcomes for all students—including those who have been historically underserved—is possible.  We are very pleased the Aim Higher plan will include an explicit focus on getting students through school to completion with meaningful degrees.”

“Higher education can fundamentally change the trajectory of a student’s life,” said Rep. Crowley. “But the crushing reality is far too many families feel as if higher education is unattainable or too expensive for their children. This is why House Democrats, led by Congressman Bobby Scott and Congresswoman Susan Davis, are so focused on offering real solutions to help all students obtain the right degree or credential that works for them.”

It is Congress’ responsibility to reexamine federal policy to ensure HEA is living up to its original promise. Congress must re-envision higher education and empower all students, regardless of background to Aim Higher.

“As chair of Future Forum, I’ve traveled across the nation to talk with millennials about the issues they care about,” said Rep. Swalwell. “I hear a familiar refrain from young people nationwide – student loan debt puts many in financial quicksand and serves as a barrier to future success. This problem affects not only young people, but families as well. We must inspire every American to Aim Higher and ensure higher education is an accessible reality for all.”

Aim Higher will highlight three policy areas:

  • Access to ensure that all students have access to a quality higher education regardless of race or socioeconomic status;
  • Affordability by strengthening and stabilizing the Pell Grant program and expanding access to affordable student loans and loan repayment, while incentivizing states to reinvest in their colleges and universities;
  • Completion so that all students complete their higher education on time with a meaningful degree or credential.

House Democrats Fight to Improve Higher Education for Working Families

FACT SHEET: Higher Education: By the Numbers