IHEP Celebrates Building Momentum for Key Higher Education InvestmentsPublished Nov 19, 2021
Washington, DC (November 19, 2021) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act, a $2 trillion investment in nationwide recovery from the current public health and economic crises. The higher education components of this legislation include an initial appropriation of $500 million to support college retention and completion grants, support for Minority Serving Institutions, and a $550 increase to the maximum Pell Grant. The bill will now be considered by the U.S. Senate.
In response, IHEP’s interim president, Mamie Voight, issued the following statement:
“IHEP applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Build Back Better Act and recognizing the critical role that higher education will play in nationwide recovery and individual opportunity. The higher education provisions will support today’s students, strengthen the institutions that serve them, and address longstanding racial and economic inequities in our postsecondary systems through equity-driven, evidence-based investments. This moment is about more than simply returning higher education to the status quo. Instead, these investments have the potential to transform how our postsecondary system serves and supports Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and underrepresented AAPI students and students from low-income backgrounds and, in the process, strengthen our economy, communities, and country as a whole.
“We thank the House for approving a $550 increase to the maximum Pell Grant—putting it on a path toward doubling. Each year, nearly seven million students rely on Pell Grants to pursue a better living and a better life through higher education, including nearly 60 percent of Black students, half of Indigenous students, and nearly half of Hispanic or Latinx students. Unfortunately, the purchasing power of this foundational federal financial aid program has failed to keep pace with the rising cost of college; while the award once covered more than half the costs at a public four-year college, it now covers less than one-third. The $550 increase will provide needed financial support for students and signals a major step toward restoring the grant’s purchasing power. We urge the Senate to maintain this increase in Build Back Better and urge policymakers in both chambers to build on this momentum to ultimately double the maximum Pell Grant award.
“We also celebrate the investment of $9 billion in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and other Minority Serving Institutions, recognizing the critical role that these institutions play in serving and promoting success for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and AAPI students.
“Finally, we thank the House for authorizing an initial investment of $500 million in support of college retention and completion. Across the country, there are at least 36 million people who started college but left before earning their degree or credential. Today’s students face myriad barriers to their retention and success, including navigating complex college processes like course selection, degree planning, and transfer; balancing work and family obligations, and covering unforeseen expenses. Far too often, the institutions serving today’s students have been historically underfunded, leaving them with limited capacity and resources to help students fully overcome these challenges. The Build Back Better Act’s College Completion Fund represents a first-of-its-kind federal investment to help institutions better support students on their path to a degree or credential through evidence-based, equity-driven programs. This investment will ensure that students have the support they need to finish their program and reap the economic and non-economic benefits that a college degree or credential can provide.
“Today’s action represents an enormous step forward in recovering from the impacts of the pandemic and building a stronger and more equitable society through higher education. We urge the Senate to maintain these key higher education investments and to pass the Build Back Better Act as an investment in our nation’s future.”