The Aim Higher Act: What People Are Saying

Here's what experts are saying about House Democrats' comprehensive reauthorization of HEA

The Aim Higher Act ensures every student has a path to a debt-free college degree or credential that leads to a rewarding career.

The Institute for College Access and Success: “Between investing in Pell Grants to help students afford college, streamlining income-driven repayment plans to help borrowers avoid default, and closing loopholes in critical college accountability measures, the Aim Higher Act includes key steps towards a higher education system that works better for students, families, and taxpayers.”

Young Invincibles: “The Aim Higher Act moves us in the right direction, making our higher education system more affordable, accessible, and responsive to today’s students. The bill invests in solutions to these challenges, like free community college tuition, increased aid to start combatting crippling levels of student debt, a more borrower-friendly student debt repayment process, and expanded student support systems like affordable childcare for student parents.”

AFT President Randi Weingarten: “The cost of a college degree is rising at three times the rate of inflation. Predatory for-profit colleges continue to scam our nation's veterans, minorities and other student loan borrowers. While the disastrous PROSPER Act takes giant leaps backwards on these issues, the Aim Higher Act takes some important steps forward toward making higher education a more affordable, accessible reality for everyone."

National Education Association: “NEA commends House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott and Committee Democrats for understanding what is important to America’s working families – higher education must be more accessible and affordable to all. Unlike the PROSPER Act that makes college less affordable by eliminating important programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Mr. Scott’s bill takes steps to ensure that all students, no matter economic background or zip code, can achieve the dream of a postsecondary degree.”

American Council on Education: “The Aim Higher legislation introduced today offers several proposals that have the strong support of the higher education community. Strengthening Pell Grants is a critical step in ensuring access to college for all qualified students, and proposals to make student loans more affordable and expand other federal aid programs are welcome steps in HEA reauthorization.”

National Association for College Admission Counseling: “NACAC supports the Aim Higher Act because it makes strong investments in federal financial aid to make college more affordable for students, provides assistance to DACA students, and holds unscrupulous institutions accountable to students and taxpayers. We ask that Congress support and implement this legislation quickly so students can reach their full academic potential, which benefits our economy and our nation.”

Council for Opportunity in Education: “The Council for Opportunity in Education is pleased to support the Aim Higher Act, which takes important steps to reaffirm our nation’s commitment to ensuring equity in higher education. We are particularly pleased that the legislation includes language that protects the integrity of the Federal TRIO Programs, which enable low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities to gain access to and graduate from college. The bill also shores up resources to enable students to pay for college by authorizing consistent increases in the Pell Grant program, strengthening SEOG and Federal Work-Study, and reviving the Perkins Loan Program.”

Association of Community College Trustees President and CEO J. Noah Brown: “The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act must assist students by tackling barriers to access and completion. The Aim Higher Act prioritizes college affordability and strengthens supports for students. These federal investments would greatly benefit community colleges and their students.”

CASEL and the Committee for Children: "CASEL and the Committee for Children believe protecting access and affordability, while encouraging completion, are all important goals that align with the pursuit of a more robust and prepared teacher workforce. The Aim Higher Act works toward strengthening teacher preparation programs by requiring grant funds be used to embed social and emotional learning strategies into the general education curriculum for institutions of higher education."

Higher Education Consortium for Special Education President Jeff Anderson: “The shortage of special education teachers and leaders continues to grow across the country, imperiling the future success of students with disabilities in higher education and the workplace. The Aim Higher Act offers a much-needed vision and commitment to ensure the full participation of our nation’s citizens with disabilities.”

National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators: “The Aim Higher Act is another important step towards reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, and we applaud Mr. Scott and the Democratic Committee members for introducing a comprehensive set of provisions that place a strong focus on access and affordability. NASFAA supports eliminating origination fees, moving closer to making Pell Grant funding fully mandatory, and easing enrollment and recertification into income-driven repayment plans.”

Principals Organizations: “We are pleased that the Aim Higher Act would retain and strengthen preparation programs for teachers and school leaders by expanding the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant program, creating a new grant program to increase diversity of the educator workforce and increase the number of preparation programs. The Aim Higher Act prioritizes the need for strong educator preparation programs and recognizes the unique role of school leaders and the need for them to receive specific professional development and training.”

National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools: “The Aim Higher Act would expand access to post-secondary education for students with disabilities and strengthen teacher preparation so that teachers are better equipped to teach diverse learners and create inclusive and accessible learning environments for all students."

The Education Trust Vice President of Higher Education Policy and Practice Wil Del Pilar: “The Aim Higher Act takes promising steps to make higher education more affordable for low-income students and students of color and other vulnerable populations. The Aim Higher Act protects and strengthens Pell, by increasing the award amount and ensuring it will grow with inflation every year, opening access for DREAMers, and repealing the harmful ban on Pell Grants for incarcerated students. As a country, we must commit to ensuring equity in college access and success, and investments in Pell will advance that goal.”

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocate Executive Director Denise Marshalls: "The Aim Higher Act hits the mark for students with disabilities and demonstrates that federal law can be written with the intent to foster success from the moment students step onto a college campus through successful graduation.”

National Council of Teachers of English Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick: "We are extremely pleased to see provisions in the Aim Higher Act which substantiate how essential Title II of the Higher Education Act is to teachers and students. Title II plays a critical role in sustaining teacher education programs, strengthening teacher recruitment, and providing support to prospective teachers.”

Parents as Teachers President and CEO Constance Gully: "We applaud the introduction of the Aim Higher Act, as it firmly recognizes that teachers must be offered research-based pedagogy and coursework on social and emotional learning competencies, trauma-informed practices, and strategies to create a positive school climate for all students."

National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools Executive Director Lauren M. Rhim: "We commend Ranking Member Scott for introducing a comprehensive higher education bill that would vastly improve not just the quality of higher education in America, but the access to these programs for students with disabilities.”

National Writing Project Executive Director Elyse Aidman-Aadahl: “The National Writing Project enthusiastically endorses the provisions in the Aim Higher Act that recognizes the importance of supporting prospective, novice, and practicing educators in comprehensive literacy instruction.”

National Disability Rights Network: “The Aim Higher Act will significantly decrease barriers to higher education and increase the chances of people with disabilities attending an institution of higher education to obtain competitive, integrated employment.”

American Association of State Colleges and Universities President Mildred García: “Unlike the Committee majority’s PROSPER Act, Rep. Scott’s Aim Higher Act would broaden access and opportunity, mitigate costs, improve quality, protect students and taxpayers, and promote success for all students—especially those who struggle the most financially. We are particularly grateful that the bill includes provisions addressing AASCU’s highest legislative priority in creating a federal-state partnership to prevent further state disinvestment and reverse the ominous decades-long trend of privatization of public higher education. … The Aim Higher Act’s financial aid provisions would ensure that today’s students—and generations to come—could attain the American Dream.”

The School Superintendents Association: “AASA … appreciates that the Aim Higher Act approaches the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act with a priority on preserving the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and other loan forgiveness programs available to educators. Our schools’ workforce is critical to our nation’s and students’ future and deserves the support this bill provides. Preserving these critical elements should be the backbone of a bipartisan reauthorization process we hope to see.”

ASBO International Executive Director John Musso, CAE, RSBA: “As school districts are encountering teacher shortages across the nation, they need substantial tools and options to incentivize new teachers to enter the profession and keep experienced educators from leaving so that students receive a high-quality education. ASBO International believes the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is a critical tool for attracting and keeping teachers in their profession.”

Association of Educational Service Agencies: “Educational Service Agencies provide support to schools and districts and appreciate the protection of the programs in the Aim Higher Act that do the same. By preserving TEACH Grants and loan forgiveness programs, particularly Public Service Loan Forgiveness, this bill demonstrates the commitment to educators we hope to see in a bipartisan Higher Education Act reauthorization.”

Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) Executive Director Olivia Golden: “Unlike the PROSPER Act (H.R. 4508), which guts nearly $15 billion from federal student aid and makes college more expensive, the Aim Higher Act calls for new investments and strengthens key federal programs that help reduce poverty, increase economic security, and improve the health and wellbeing of students.”

Equal Justice Works Executive Director David Stern: “We support the provisions included in the Aim Higher Act that preserve and expand Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). … We know that PSLF is critical for attracting and retaining high-quality public service professionals, including lawyers, in rural and other underserved communities.”

Association of Young Americans: “On behalf of our 8,000 members across all 50 states, the Association of Young Americans (AYA) supports the Aim Higher Act and believes this bill, if enacted, would make college more accessible and affordable for our nation’s students and ensure institutions of higher education are accountable to the students they serve. … AYA is extremely grateful that this legislation strengthens financial aid programs, including raising the Pell Grant award by $500 each year and making Pell funding mandatory.”

Center for Responsible Lending Counsel Ashley Harrington: “For too long, for-profit colleges have failed to serve the educational purpose for which they were intended. The combination of high costs and low graduation rates by these bad actors have resulted in unfair burdens for student borrowers and taxpayers. This bill improves accountability for all higher education institutions and creates a sensible path to fix our broken student loan repayment system.”

Demos: Whereas the PROSPER Act would do virtually nothing to increase investment in public higher education, expand grant aid to struggling students, or reduce burdensome loan debt, the Aim Higher Act contains helpful provisions, such as a federal-state partnership to make community college tuition-free, a $500 increase in Pell Grants, expanded oversight to protect students against predatory colleges, and support to students at community colleges and Minority Serving Institutions. ... It is time to match the urgency of the need with the appropriate investment from the federal government, states, and educational institutions.

International Society for Technology in Education CEO Richard Culatta: “I’m pleased with the direction set forth in the Aim High Act, particularly as it relates to ensuring educators are prepared to thrive in today’s digitally rich classroom by ensuring they can demonstrate ‘proficiency with the use of educational technology.’ The legislation also aligns with the definitions of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that highlight the importance of successfully teaching in blended learning environments.”

National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities Policy Director Erin Prangley: “The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities is encouraged that the Aim Higher Act includes many provisions addressing the unique challenges faced by students with developmental disabilities in accessing and thriving in higher education. The Aim Higher Act supports higher educational attainment for people with developmental disabilities and provides a framework that brings us closer to true integration and inclusion in higher education for students of all abilities.” 

AccessLex Institute: "We are heartened by several of the policy prescriptions offered by the Aim Higher Act introduced on Tuesday. These proposals further the fundamental goals of HEA to increase access and affordability of higher education."

Institute for Higher Education Policy: "This newest Higher Education Act proposal includes provisions that take bold steps to narrow inequities in college access, affordability, and success by strengthening and protecting federal need-based aid, supporting targeted degree-completion strategies, enhancing transparency, and expanding educational opportunities for some of the most vulnerable students--those who are incarcerated." 

Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities"The bill ensures teacher preparation programs build a competent workforce of teachers equipped to instruct diverse learners; requires colleges to accept a student’s formal documentation of disability from high school when seeking accommodations so students are not required to undergo new costly evaluation to re-prove existence of a disability; and improves data collection so that students and their families will know the types of support services offered when selecting a school." 

Coalition for International Education Consultant Miriam Kazanjian: "Title VI of the Aim Higher Act is a leap forward to ensuring that American students have the international competencies for success in the 21st century workforce. Whether it’s for business and trade, health care, law enforcement, government, finance, cyber security, food safety, education and more, the needs for Americans with deep and broad cultural understanding, world area knowledge, foreign language skills and international experience grow by the day." 

Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children President Holly Lane: "We applaud the introduction of the Aim Higher Act by Ranking Member Scott. Through TEACH grants, loan forgiveness, and forward-thinking initiatives, the bill invests in the next generation of teachers and leaders to provide a fully prepared education workforce who can successfully address the complex demands of today's classrooms." 

American Association of Community Colleges President and CEO Walter Bumphus: "There is no substitute for a national unit record data system that tracks student progress across institutions and is linked to the earnings of program completers. Such a system would dramatically increase accountability across higher education, reduce expenditures by streamlining a variety of reporting requirements and mechanisms, and provide students and their families with the precise information that they continue to seek in vain. A limited, focused unit record data system with state-of-the-art privacy protections is one of the highest objectives of community college CEOs across the country, and AACC strongly supports this provision in the Aim Higher Act.”

Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities President Peter McPherson: "The bill includes a number of provisions that APLU supports and has advocated for over the years. As examples, the bill would increase the Pell Grant award and ensure the program receives annual inflation adjustments, fix the flaws of the 90/10 rule, and expand the collection and reporting of higher education outcomes data to count all students. Additionally, we appreciate that the legislation recognizes the primary driver of increased tuition for the vast majority of students is state disinvestment in public higher education." 

Thurgood Marshall College Fund"Although we are awaiting a final draft of the legislation, The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) applauds a number of provisions in the Act, including provisions which propose: (i) a $500 annual increase to the Pell Grant program; (ii) to index Pell to inflation; and (iii) to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application process. Each of these provisions, if implemented, would not only help to ensure that aspiring students have access to the schools that TMCF represents, but also allows students to persist and graduate from our Member-Schools, each of which are at the core of TMCF’s mission." 

Jumpstart: "Jumpstart is proud to join dozens of leading higher education advocacy organizations in endorsing the Aim Higher Act, a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act that puts students first. The Aim Higher Act provides an affordable pathway from high school through career for all students with a focus on traditionally underserved college students, including those from low-income families and those who are first-generation college students. This legislation not only makes college more affordable by lowering debt, but it also strengthens programs that build tangible workforce skills while in school, such as Federal Work Study." 

University of Iowa SEIU Faculty Forward Member Brooke Larson"As a visiting assistant professor for five years and someone with substantial student loan debt myself, I support the provisions in the Aim Higher Act that will make college education more affordable. Aim Higher is a step toward easing the debt burden that crushes my students, their families, and tens of thousands of college instructors like me."

The Arc: "The Arc is pleased to support the Aim Higher Act, a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) that would improve higher education access and outcomes for all students, including those with disabilities." 

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