Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Senate to Vote on DREAM Act!

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced that the U.S. Senate will consider the DREAM Act as an amendment to the FY 2011 Department of Defense (DOD) authorization act. The DREAM Act, one of AACC’s top legislative priorities since 2001, provides a path to legal status for undocumented students that were brought into the country as children and lets states decide their own policies on in-state tuition for undocumented students. Key votes requiring the support of 60 senators to pass could begin as early as Tuesday, September 21. Please contact your senators ASAP and urge them to vote for adding the DREAM Act onto the DOD authorization bill. More information will follow shortly.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Check the AACC Website for the Latest on the Community College and Career Training Program

The Department of Labor is expected to release its Solicitation for Grant Applications (SGA) for the Community College and Career Training Program (CCCTP) in the first half of October. The CCCTP is the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act program that was funded at $500 million per year for four years starting in federal fiscal year 2011, which starts this coming October 1. While the full details of the SGA will not be known until its release, certain elements of the program are coming into focus. AACC is aware of the tremendous amount of interest in this program by community colleges, and we have compiled all the details of the program that we are aware of on our website. This site will be updated as we become aware of further information.

The AACC government relations department will be reviewing this information as part of a free webinar on Wednesday, September 8, 2:00 - 3:00 PM EDT. In addition to the CCCTP, topics will include the gainful employment regulations, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, FY 2011 funding for key programs, the White House community college summit, and the DREAM Act. Please join us tommorow.

AACC Fall Legislative Preview Webinar
When: Wednesday, September 8, 2:00 - 3:00 PM EDT
Register: Click Here

Upon registering, you will receive your personal URL for logging onto the webinar, as well as call-in information for the audio portion.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Free Webinar September 8 - Fall Legislative Preview

Register now to join the AACC government relations staff as they recap recent legislative developments and look ahead at what remains on the agenda for September and beyond. Topics will include the upcoming RFP for the Community College and Career Training Program, gainful employment regulations, the American Opportunity Tax Credit, the White House community college summit, the education jobs fund, FY 2011 funding for key programs and the DREAM Act.

What: AACC Legislative Webinar

When: Wednesday, September 8, 2010, 2:00 - 3:00 PM EDT

Registration: Click Here

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar, including your personalized URL, phone number and access code.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Education Jobs and FMAP Funds Pass Key Senate Vote - Final Passage Expected Soon

Earlier today, the U.S. Senate voted 61-38 to cut off debate and proceed to a vote on final passage of the Murray-Harkin amendment to H.R. 1586. All the Senate Democrats were joined by Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins from Maine to obtain the 60 votes necessary to end the filibuster on the amendment. This was a key procedural hurdle and paves the way for likely passage of the bill in the Senate before the end of the week, sending it back to the House of Representatives. Anticipating this Senate action, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has taken the highly unusual step of recalling the House, which had already adjourned for its August recess, for a vote on the bill early next week.

The Murray-Harkin amendment will provide $26 billion to help states deal with the crippling financial situations they are facing. $10 billion of that money is for the education jobs fund, which states can use to retain and hire K-12 teachers and other educational personnel. While the jobs fund does not extend directly to higher education, the maintenance of effort provision that states must comply with to receive these funds does set minimum spending levels for higher education. Many states have reported to AACC that this MOE language was instrumental in avoiding larger cuts to state higher education spending.

The Murray-Harkin amendment also includes $16 billion to extend increases to the federal Medicaid matching funds provided to States that were part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These increases to the federal medical assistance percentage, or FMAP, were scheduled to cease at the end of 2010. The Murray-Harkin amendment will extend the increase for six additional months.

Taken together, the education jobs and FMAP funds will provide crucial fiscal relief to states, relieving the pressure on them to make cuts in other areas such as higher education.

Please call or email your Representative today and urge them to vote "Yes" on H.R. 1586 when they vote on the bill next week.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Education Department Issues Proposed Regulations on "Gainful Employment" and Other Key Issues

This is a brief update on regulatory activity by the U.S. Department of Education that has major implications for community colleges.

On June 18, the Department of Education released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on "program integrity." The regulations cover a wide variety of issues and have generated a great deal of controversy, in part because they are generally targeted at abuses by for-profit institutions. Comments are due on this proposed rule by August 2nd.

AACC has worked closely with the American Council on Education in developing formal comments to be submitted by all of higher education, but it also plans to submit its own comments on issues related to "gainful employment." We encourage you to examine AACC's DRAFT comments and to submit similar comments.

Lastly, earlier today the Department of Education made available a notice of proposed rulemaking that fleshes out its approach on the "gainful employment" issue. This regulation has major implications for community college certificate training programs, and indeed for all of higher education, given that the regulation involves the federal government in new ways in evaluating and determining eligibility for higher education programs. For more information, see Inside Higher Education's story on the regulations and the regulation itself.

AACC will be developing a community college response to this regulation in the coming weeks—comments will be due in early September—and in doing so, will strive to balance the clear need for the Federal government to exert greater quality control over profit-driven institutions, along with the need to ensure that community colleges aren't subject to inappropriate regulations and/or sanctions because of abuses by other institutions.

These issues are complicated and important, and we encourage your engagement with them. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Final Legislative Alert! Support Funding for Education Jobs and Pell Grants

As early as this week, the House of Representatives will vote on “supplemental” appropriations legislation for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 to appropriate additional funds for various purposes, including national defense. AACC, along with the rest of the education community, is fighting to include vitally important funds for education jobs and the Pell Grant program in this legislation. We need your help.

Please email, call or fax your Representative today and urge their support for the education jobs fund and $5.7 billion for the Pell Grant program in the FY 2010 supplemental appropriations bill.

Background Information:

Legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate to provide $23 billion in aid to states for the purpose of hiring and retaining teachers and other educational staff. These funds would essentially be a more focused extension of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund created in last year’s economic stimulus legislation. The Senate supplemental appropriations bill, which is the bill that the House will take up, does not include this jobs fund. The House needs to hear strong support from the education community for adding the jobs fund to the supplemental appropriations bill. Furthermore, the latest version of the jobs fund only included K-12 education, and not higher education. While any education jobs fund would likely help community colleges, at least indirectly, higher education should be part of the jobs fund.

AACC is also urging the House to include $5.7 billion to retire a shortfall in the Pell Grant program that has arisen because of the tremendous increase in demand for the grants brought on by the recession. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, passed as part of the health care reconciliation bill earlier this year, retired most, but not all, of this shortfall. Without this additional $5.7 billion in this legislation, the maximum Pell Grant could fall as much as $845 in the 2011-12 academic year.

Talking Points (please tailor to the situation at your institution):

• The Education Jobs Fund is vital to community colleges. These institutions have been squeezed by shrinking state support and increased enrollments, forcing them to layoff faculty, reduce class sections and/or increase class sizes, and slash support services. In many places, thousands of students have been prevented from enrolling in the classes that they need.

• An education jobs fund of any kind helps community colleges by relieving pressure on state budgets in other areas. However, higher education should be explicitly included in a final jobs fund, just as it was in the Jobs for Main Street Act passed by the House last December.

• More than 2.5 million community college students rely on the Pell Grant to help make their education possible. $5.7 billon is desperately needed to ensure that these students do not see a significant cut in their grants, as much as $845.

• Failing to fix the Pell Grant “shortfall” may result in future reductions not only to Pell Grants, but also other student aid, job training and institutional support programs that are vital to community colleges and their students.

Help in contacting your Representatives is available on the AACC website. If you have any questions, please email David Baime, Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Research, or call 202-728-0200 x224; Jim Hermes, Director of Government Relations, x216; or Laurie Quarles, Legislative Associate, x249.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

AACC Policy Brief: Moving Success from the Shadows

The need for better data on the performance of higher education has become a major focus of education policymakers, and this has been reflected in federal legislation. Community colleges are appropriately held accountable for the workforce outcomes of their students, but the data that are gathered to evaluate those outcomes must reflect the post-college occupational experiences of their students. The latest AACC policy brief “Moving Success From the Shadows: Data Systems That Link Education and Workforce Outcomes” examines the current state of linkages between education and workforce outcomes.

Visit for more information and the full report.