Scott, Baldwin Introduce Bill to Make Higher Education More Accessible and Affordable

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to announce America’s College Promise Act of 2015 (ACP). The legislation would make two years of community college free and provide an affordable pathway to a four-year college degree for low-income students.
Under the America’s College Promise Act, more than 9 million students at 1,300 community colleges and nearly 300,000 students at approximately 280 four-year Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving institutions (AANAPISIs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), stand to benefit each year. 
“Higher education should be a path to shared prosperity, not a path into suffocating debt,” said Senator Baldwin. “Unfortunately college costs and student loan debt are holding back an entire generation and creating a drag on economic growth for our country. America needs to out-educate the rest of the world in order to better compete in a 21st century, skills based economy. The America’s College Promise Act will strengthen workforce readiness and our economy. I’m proud to introduce this legislation with the help of my friend Congressman Scott, and with the full support of the Administration, in order to give all students the opportunity to gain the skills they need to compete, succeed, and prosper.”
The bill provides a federal match of $3 for every $1 invested by the state to waive community college tuition and fees for eligible students before other financial aid is applied. America’s College Promise would help to cover a significant portion of tuition and fees— for either the first two years or last two years of college—for low-income students who choose to attend qualifying HBCUs, HSIs, AANAPISIs and other MSIs.  
“Students and families are faced with the overwhelming burden of figuring out how to pay for college,” said Rep. Scott. “America’s College Promise is a step in the right direction to help families gain access to quality, affordable higher education opportunities. For low-income students, this bill creates a pathway to a four-year degree at qualifying Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving institutions (AANAPISIs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). At a time when families feel like they’re increasingly having to adapt to a changing economy and technology, America’s College Promise creates a way for them to gain the skills they need to compete in a 21st century economy.”
America’s College Promise was originally proposed by President Barack Obama in his 2015 State of the Union speech, with the goal of making community college as universal as high school.
“America’s College Promise is the President’s bold vision, announced earlier this year, to make two years of college as universal as high school was a century ago, helping students earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree and earn skills needed in the workforce at no cost,” said Secretary Duncan. “Community colleges are not just a uniquely American institution, but as the largest most affordable segment of America’s higher education system, they are critical to reaching the President’s goal to have the highest share of college graduates in the world and to ensuring America’s economic prosperity in the future.”
Read more about the America’s College Promise Act here
Read the bill text of the America’s College Promise Act here.  
The America’s College Promise Act of 2015 has 61 House cosponsors:  Reps. Rubén Hinojosa, James E. Clyburn, G. K. Butterfield, Judy Chu, Linda Sánchez, Alma Adams, Seth Moulton, Mark Takano, Raúl M. Grijalva, Cedric Richmond, Corrine Brown, Danny K. Davis, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Brendan F. Boyle, Lois Capps, David N. Cicilline, Katherine Clark, John Conyers Jr., Mark DeSaulnier, Donna F. Edwards, Anna Eshoo, Chaka Fattah, Marcia L. Fudge, Al Green, Gene Green, Luis V. Gutiérrez, Janice Hahn, Mike Honda, Hakeem Jeffries, Joseph P. Kennedy, Derek Kilmer, Ron Kind, John B. Larson, Barbara Lee, Sandy Levin, John Lewis, Ted Lieu, Ben Ray Luján, Jim McDermott, James P. McGovern, Gwen Moore, Grace F. Napolitano, Donald Norcross, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Stacey E. Plaskett, Mark Pocan, Charles B. Rangel, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Bobby Rush, Gregorio Sablan, Loretta Sánchez, Adam Schiff, José E. Serrano, Eric Swalwell, Mark Takai, Norma J. Torres, Chris Van Hollen, Frederica Wilson and John Yarmuth. 
The America’s College Promise Act 2015 has 10 Senate cosponsors: Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
America’s College Promise is supported by: AFL-CIO, Alliance for Equity in Higher Education, American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), Asian American and Pacific Islander Association of Colleges and Universities (APIACU), Asian and Pacific Islander Scholarship Fund (APIASF), Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), Campaign for America’s Future, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Consumers Union, Generation Progress, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), National Education Association (NEA), National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), National Skills Coalition, One Wisconsin Now, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Student Debt Crisis, The Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network, Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), United Negro College Fund (UNCF), University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin Extension, and Wisconsin Technical College System. 
Statements of Support can be viewed here.