Strengthening Community College Training Grants
Community and technical colleges strongly support the Strengthening Community College Training Grant (SCCTG) program, which was funded at $50 million in FY 22. SCCTG provides direct support for expanded workforce training capacity at our institutions, in a similar vein as the Community Based Job Training Grants and the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College to Career Training grants that came before it.
We deeply appreciate the administration’s request to double this program in FY 23 to $100 million, the same amount provided by the committee last year. Since applications for the program have far outstripped available funds, we believe a slightly larger increase is warranted. Accordingly, we recommend increasing funding for the program to $125 million in FY 2023.
Support Under-Resourced Institutions and Students
The Higher Education Act Strengthening Institutions Program (Title III-A) helps community and technical colleges and other institutions serve low-income students by providing funds to improve academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability. Funds may be used for planning, faculty development, establishing endowments, and other purposes.
Title III-A also supports improvements in administration and academic programs, and many recent grantees have focused on increasing student completion. We urge you to meet the administration’s request and fund this program at $210 million in FY 2023.
Double the Pell Grant maximum award via mandatory and/or discretionary spending. While community and technical colleges offer the lowest tuition by far of the major higher education sectors, the national average annual cost of attendance for a community or technical college is over $18,000. This makes a doubling of the grant hugely beneficial to our students, who have lower incomes, on average, than students in other sectors.
If doubling the Pell Grant is not possible immediately, we urge you to increase the discretionary maximum award by at least $750 in FY 23, along with the $1,275 increase through mandatory funds proposed by the Biden administration.
In addition, we ask Congress to:
- Keep all reserve funds in the Pell Grant program. Diverting these funds to finance other programs undermines the program’s future financial stability and the ability of millions of students to succeed in college.
- Lower the threshold for Pell Grant eligibility to 150 clock hours and enable more individuals to access training programs for jobs in high-demand fields.
- Finally, enact the “Tax-Free Pell Grant Act,” which eliminates the taxation of Pell Grants, providing substantial financial benefit to the neediest community and technical college students.
Workforce Development and Adult Basic Education
Federal workforce education programs authorized by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) are needed to help individuals navigate the changing economy. The best opportunity for displaced and economically disadvantaged workers is to augment their skills with education. We recommend at least $1 billion for the ABE State (Title II) Grants and strong increases for the other WIOA programs.
Fund new and existing programs to better serve veteran students. Enact reforms that protect veterans against exploitation of their G.I. Bill education benefits.
Establish a path to citizenship for qualifying undocumented students and provide access to student federal aid. Protect Dreamers from deportation and establish pathways to permanent legal status.
Basic Needs Supports
The true cost of attending a community or technical college extends well beyond tuition. Many community and technical college students still cannot pay for necessities such as food, housing, transportation, child care, and medical expenses. Community and technical colleges support policies that address this by providing greater access to vital basic needs services. Therefore, we recommend:
- Increasing the capacity of community and technical colleges to connect students with supportive services that will help them persist and succeed in their postsecondary pathways. The Build Back Better Act includes a new Completion Grant that tackles these issues. Title IV programs can be better integrated with income-maintenance programs.
- Strengthening existing federal programs, including the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to meet students’ true needs.
- Remove work requirements on SNAP that prevent students from accessing food benefits including on college campuses.
- Enhance supports for SNAP E&T students by treating required textbooks the same as tuition expenses, not as participant reimbursements.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Replace the state work participation rate with an outcomes-based performance measurement system that would evaluate states on how well they did in helping TANF recipients achieve employment, earnings, and credential-attainment goals using metrics similar to those in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Increase the lifetime cap on vocational training for TANF recipients from 12 to 24 months. This will align with Washington state’s WorkFirst program and help students reach credentials that lead to living-wage jobs.
Remove the distinction between “core” and “noncore” activities that count toward a TANF recipient’s work requirement. A noncore activity — which includes adult basic education — counts only when the recipient spends a certain number of hours in a “core” activity (such as employment).
Remove TANF and Unemployment Benefits from counting against SNAP benefits. This reduces benefit cliffs and provides equitable access to food.
Perkins Career and Technical Education
The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (CTE) programs are the largest ongoing source of federal institutional support for community and technical colleges, helping them improve all aspects of cutting-edge CTE programs.
Community and technical colleges use Perkins grants to prepare diverse students for high-skill, in-demand fields by helping institutions:
- Prepare students for success in high quality academic and career technical education programs
- Improve curricula, expand instructional modality, and increase work-based learning opportunities
- Purchase state-of-the-art equipment to prepare students for today’s workforce
- Integrate career technical education and academic instruction
- Strengthen partnerships between colleges and the business community
We urge Congress to make a significantly increased investment in this program of at least 10% above the FY 22 appropriation.
American Association of Community and Technical Colleges (AACC)
As the largest sector of higher education, community colleges offer a strong voice to legislators on the impact of critical programs and the needs of the millions of students served annually.
In addition to working with the regulatory agencies that administer funding and reporting programs at the national level, AACC supports the following legislative agenda for the 117th Congress.
The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT)
Among other things, ACCT supports college boards in their efforts to govern and develop policies that focus on meeting community needs and helps build community college board leadership and advocacy capacity through education and training programs.
Whether through Pell Grants, institutional aid, or workforce development programs, the federal government has a significant impact on community colleges. ACCT strongly believes that civic action is an important part of working for community colleges.
ACCT provides advocacy tools and training for its member organizations to help trustees become more informed about what is happening in Washington, gain knowledge as how to be the best advocate, and take action on behalf of their institutions.
Last Modified: 2/28/23, 12:57 PM