WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP) Committee, unveiled a package of eight bills to rewrite parts of the Higher Education Act. This action comes after Alexander once again blocked consideration of the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act, which would have extended a two-year mandatory funding for Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribally Controlled Colleges or Universities (TCUs), and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) set to expire at the end of this month.
While Alexander’s new plan includes a permanent extension of mandatory funding for HBCUs and other MSIs and simplification of the FAFSA, it fails to address college affordability and the student debt crisis. Alexander’s package suggests raising Pell funds by only $20— an amount that will not help low-income students pay for even one day of food— and doesn’t create an accountability system for predatory for-profit institutions or address extensive problems with student loan repayment and servicing.
Ashley Harrington, Senior Policy Counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending, made the following statement:
It’s disappointing that Senator Alexander has blocked critical funding for HBCU’s and other minority serving institutions. His narrow set of policy proposals doesn’t offer the substantive, long-term solutions borrowers desperately need. HBCUs and MSIs across the country are underfunded, understaffed, and under resourced. College is only getting more expensive every year, student borrowers are struggling to make payments, and servicers and for-profit colleges are getting free rein to mistreat their customers and students. As this crisis exacerbates the racial wealth gap and constrains an entire generation of taxpayers, we need a real plan to address these important issues. We hope Senator Alexander reconsiders his position of holding hostage funding for HBCUs, MSIs, and the students of color that they serve and invites advocates to the table to create a real agenda that tackles education and student loan debt reform.
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