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2018 Federal Legislative Priorities

Federal Legislative Priorities

The American Association of Community and Technical Colleges (AACC) and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) unite efforts to support a set of federal legislative priorities for each meeting of Congress. The 115th United States Congress meets in Washington, D.C. —spanning two years — from Jan. 3, 2017, to Jan. 3, 2019.

The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), the Washington State Association of College Trustees (ACT), its members and stakeholders work with AACC and ACT to support their joint agenda.

Download a printable copy of the Joint Legislative Agenda for the 115th Congress.

2018 federal legislative agenda

Of the many items set forth in the 115th Congress priority list, our system is focused on five key areas: Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization, Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (CTE) Reauthorization, Pell Grants, Workforce Development, DREAM Act.

Download a printable copy of Washington's Community and Technical Colleges 2018 Federal Priorities

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Preserve the Federal Pell Grant program as the foundation of federal student aid for millions of needy college students.

  • Provide annual increases to the maximum Pell Grant.
  • Reinstate the year-round Pell Grant.
  • Increase lifetime Pell Grant eligibility to 14 semesters (full-time equivalent).
  • Restore full eligibility for “Ability to Benefit” community college students. 
  • Ensure federal budget policies allow for necessary investments in domestic discretionary appropriations.
  • Support the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and Federal Work-Study programs, which enhance community college student enrollment and success.
  • Increase funding for vital institutional aid programs, including the Strengthening Institutions (Title III-A of the HEA) program, Developing Hispanic- Serving Institutions, Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions, Predominantly Black Institutions, TRIO, GEAR UP, CCAMPIS, and others that enable community colleges to serve diverse and disadvantaged populations. 
  • Simplify the FAFSA process to support greater community college participation in federal student aid programs.
  • Establish more accurate measures of community college success by counting students who graduate within six years and who transfer to other colleges. (done)
  • Establish meaningful state maintenance of effort provisions for higher education.
  • Support responsible student borrowing by tying borrowing limits to enrollment intensity, giving institutions more authority to limit borrowing in defined circumstances, and authorizing institutions to require greater loan counseling.
  • Replace the current Cohort Default Rate metric with a Student Default Risk Index that incorporates institutional borrowing rates.
  • Encourage innovation in higher education, including competency-based education, dual enrollment, and other educational reforms.
  • Support an independent accreditation process that provides necessary quality assurance.
  • Streamline federal reporting and disclosure requirements and lighten the federal regulatory burden; ensure that the Department of Education works in a positive, partnership-oriented fashion with institutions.
  • Create a federal student unit record system to generate student-level data on postsecondary outcomes and earnings.
  • Create a federal College Promise program in partnership with states to eliminate tuition and fees for high quality programs at community colleges.
  • Refine Title IX provisions to enhance student safety and clarify institutional responsibilities, taking into account the nature of community college campuses.
  • Increase the quality of funded programs by establishing more rigorous requirements that CTE programs be aligned with industry needs, highly coordinated between the secondary and postsecondary levels, and prepare students for occupations in high-wage, high-demand occupations.
  • Establish consistent definitions and accountability metrics to enable a clearer picture of the performance of CTE at the national and state levels.
  • Update the act to better support student success by including dual enrollment, work experiences, integrated delivery of basic skills, and stackable postsecondary credentials.
  • Increase funding for CTE state grants.
  • Authorize and fund a program dedicated to supporting and expanding innovative community college and industry partnerships.
  • Increase funding for the occupational and adult basic education programs authorized in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
  • Improve and align the reporting and outcomes standards for measurements of community college performance in workforce and related programs. 
  • Streamline and simplify higher education tax-based aid provided to students and their families, while maintaining the total federal investment made in students.
  • Improve the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) by targeting the credit to students with the greatest financial need, increasing refundability, and ensuring that Pell Grant recipients qualify for the credit.
Support legislation to provide resources to nursing and allied health students and programs at two-year institutions, including an amendment to the Public Health Service Act, Title VIII (nursing education programs), to secure equitable funding for community colleges and make them eligible to receive grants for the purpose of expanding nursing enrollments. 
  • Support funding for new and existing programs to help institutions better serve the needs of veteran students.
  • Ensure the ability of active duty personnel and their dependents to access community college educational programs.
  • Enact reforms that help veterans choose the educational program best suited to their needs and to prevent their exploitation.
  • Pass legislation that would establish a path to citizenship for undocumented students who are long-time U.S. residents and eliminate federal restrictions on states that choose to offer in-state tuition to undocumented students.
  • Make DREAM Act students eligible for federal student financial assistance.
  • Increase funding for the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program at the National Science Foundation.
  • Include community colleges in efforts to bolster America’s competitiveness in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
  • Support existing programs and legislation that increase opportunities for community college students to study abroad and encourage international students to enroll at community colleges.
  • Increase funding for the HEA Title VI and Fulbright Hays undergraduate international education programs, which are vital to national security and economic productivity.
  • Support modifications to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program that expand the vocational education time limit from 12 months to 36 months in order to enable TANF recipients to complete training programs and gain the necessary skills to secure employment.
  • Establish federal policies that help students establish eligibility for programs that address food, housing, medical and other needs of severely financially disadvantaged students. 
  • Support programs that recognize the critical role community colleges play in fostering rural economic development.
  • Provide adequate federal resources for such essential programs as rural education, rural health care, renewable energy, and rural workforce development.
  • Ensure community colleges and the areas they serve have adequate access to broadband Internet service.

American Association of Community and Technical Colleges (AACC)

Representing the more than 1,100 community colleges in Washington, DC is key to the mission of 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 115th 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. 

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Last Modified: 5/2/18 3:43 PM

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