IHEP Applauds the Biden Administration’s Focus on Once-in-a-Generation Investments in Today’s Students and Encourages Additional Steps to Build an Equitable TomorrowPublished Apr 28, 2021
Washington, D.C. (April 28, 2021) – Today, the Biden Administration announced key pieces of The American Families Plan, a proposal to deliver extensive investments in education and other society-wide benefits and supports.
In response to the plan’s higher education priorities, IHEP’s interim president, Mamie Voight, issued the following statement:
“IHEP applauds the Biden Administration’s recognition of the transformational impact of postsecondary education, as reflected in the investments announced in The American Families Plan. We welcome the substantial stride toward doubling the maximum Pell Grant award, a new grant program to scale evidence-based policies to boost degree completion, additional funding for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), and a first step in important conversations about addressing college affordability.
“The Biden Administration rightly highlights the critical need at this moment to make once-in-a-generation investments in today’s students. The way that we structure these investments – from the Pell Grant to free college – will determine if decisions today disrupt longstanding racial and socioeconomic inequities in college access, success, and mobility to build the tomorrow our economy and society need and deserve.
“We welcome the proposed $1,400 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award, in addition to the $400 increase proposed in President Biden’s budget summary, as an important move toward restoring the grant’s purchasing power. Even with this increase, the maximum grant would cover less than 40 percent of costs at public four-year colleges—a long way from the three-quarters of costs that the grant covered in the program’s early years. We urge the Biden Administration to build on this $1,800 increase and to double the maximum award amount.
“The American Families Plan’s main affordability proposal – to offer tuition-free community college to all students and subsidies to cover two years of tuition at four-year MSIs for students from families making under $125,000 a year – recognizes that today’s students face financial challenges on their path to a postsecondary degree or credential. These are important steps, but more is needed to address the financial barriers to access and success for students from low-income backgrounds.
“The conversation about costs must not stop at tuition when it is non-tuition costs, like housing, food, textbooks, transportation, and internet and technology services, that are often the most prohibitive for low-income community college students. IHEP encourages further investments to help students from low-income backgrounds cover these expenses. We also urge policymakers to reduce stratification within our postsecondary system by tackling affordability for students from low-income backgrounds not only at community colleges, but also at four-year institutions.
“Finally, we celebrate the proposal’s focus on the non-financial barriers to postsecondary success. The proposed $5 billion investment in institutional aid grants for MSIs will strengthen success for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and AAPI students across the country. The proposed $62 billion grant program to scale evidence-based solutions to promote degree completion, including wraparound services, basic needs support, and transfer articulation agreements, is an important investment in the success of students from low-income backgrounds and the institutions that serve them.
“The American Families Plan sets forth bold—and needed—investments in education. There also remain opportunities to strengthen, expand, and target key postsecondary policies so they best meet the needs of today’s students. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration and members of Congress to build on this proposal and enact once-in-a-generation investments to catalyze a better, more affordable, more equitable postsecondary system for all students, regardless of race, income, or background.”