Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Boost College Access

on November 4, 2016

Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) introduced legislation to encourage selective colleges and universities to enroll more low-income students. The Access, Success and Persistence In Reshaping Education Act (ASPIRE Act), S. 3368, will also provide funding for increasing college completion rates at colleges that enroll above-average numbers of low-income students.

Selective colleges that enroll disproportionately low numbers of low-income students would have four years to increase the numbers of low-income students they enroll. Colleges that failed to increase their enrollment would have to pay a fee to continue in the federal student loan programs. The colleges would not be allowed to reduce institutional need-based grant aid or increase tuition or fees to cover the cost of the fees. The fee revenue would be used to improve outcomes at high-access colleges with low graduation rates. The legislation would be self-funding and would not require any new appropriations.

Low-income students are defined as Federal Pell Grant recipients who are enrolled full-time.

The legislation is noteworthy in that it has bipartisan support. However, the legislation has not been reported out of committee.

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