As the new administration of President-elect Donald J. Trump develops its higher education policies, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has laid out its vision of how the federal government can help community colleges continue in their mission to provide high-quality education and related programs.
Increasing access and success for students
Strengthening the Pell Grant program continues to be a top priority. AACC and community colleges have called for the reinstatement of year-round Pell since it was eliminated in 2011 after just one year of existence. AACC also is wants to ensure that the Pell grant maximum keeps pace with inflation, and that the Pell Grant program adapts to changes in educational offerings, such as competency-based education, micro and stackable credentials, and training directed to industry certifications. Expanding Pell eligibility to these programs on a limited basis would give institutions “the ability to choose which programs have had the most success in placing or retaining students in good jobs,” the AACC document says.
Increasing access to higher education also would be helped through investments in open educational resources, emergency grants for students and more funding for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS).
Investing in workforce training capacity
Community colleges are recognized for the workforce training they provide. AACC proposed an annual $500 million Community College and Industry Partnerships program that engages business and industry in improving community colleges’ ability to educate the workforce. There’s also a call to increase funding for existing federal workforce programs, such as Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Basic State Grants and the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Program.
Investing in infrastructure
President-elect Trump has made improving infrastructure a priority.
“This need for additional infrastructure expenditure has been felt acutely at America’s community colleges for many years,” says the AACC document.
AACC proposes not only funding for building new facilities and updating campuses—a $5 billion investment over 3 years, with a 33-percent state match—but also funding for community colleges to train those working on infrastructure projects.
Lightening the regulatory burden
While community colleges do need to be held accountable for how federal resources are used, sometimes the burden and costs of complying with regulations outweigh the benefits. AACC urges consideration of the recommendations made in 2015 by the Task Force on Federal Regulation of Higher Education.
The association also recommends lightening institutional burden—and producing better data—through the establishment of a federal student-unit-record database.
For more details, check out AACC’s full document online.
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