Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Register Now for AACC's Washington Institute

The Washington Institute is designed expressly for community college officials who want an insider's view of how Washington works. Sessions at this intensive seminar will address how colleges can get targeted federal resources, influence legislation, shape media coverage, and understand the role that associations and think tanks play in federal policy debates.

The Washington Institute provides a timely opportunity to gain valuable insights from high-level Washington insiders as well as from institutional colleagues to enhance your advocacy efforts. Learn more about pending federal policies and how you can influence legislative and regulatory decisions.

Participants will have direct access to several key policymakers in the Nation's capital, who will share their views on the latest higher education developments. Community college presidents, government relations directors, and other senior campus officials are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this innovative professional development opportunity.

Registration is available online at http://www.aacc.nche.edu/newsevents/Events/washingtoninstitute/Pages/default.aspx

For more information, contact Katharine Carter, Legilsative Information Specialist,
at (202) 728-0200, ext. 225, or kcarter@aacc.nche.edu

Thursday, September 17, 2009

House Passes H.R. 3221!

This afternoon, by a vote of 253 to 171, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3221, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act. The vote occurred largely on a party-line basis—just six Republicans and three Democrats abandoned their parties on the vote for final passage.

H.R. 3221 contains the American Graduation Initiative, an historic federal investment in community colleges, as well as guaranteed increases in the Pell Grant maximum, and funding for HBCUs and Hispanic-Serving Institutions. The legislation derives funds for these initiatives by requiring that all institutions begin participating in the Direct Loan program by July 1, 2010.

As part of the floor action, the House approved a manager's amendment, offered by House Education and Labor Committee chairman George Miller (D-CA), that includes a series of changes sought by AACC. It limits the quantitative benchmarks that colleges that receive AGI grants must set and meet. Under the original bill, the benchmarks could have been interpreted much more broadly and required unreasonable amounts of tracking and reporting. In addition, AACC secured language that requires that, in order for States to receive funding under the American Graduation Initiative, they must establish and implement comprehensive articulation agreements.

AACC also worked with Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Mike Ross (D-AR) on their amendment to ensure that colleges that received funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) were not denied facilities funding under the legislation. The House also approved amendments to bolster the bill's financial literacy provisions and strengthen services and priorities for veterans and dislocated workers. The House rejected amendments that would have stripped the American Graduation Initiative and construction funds from the bill. The amendment to eliminate the American Graduation Initiative was offered by Rep.Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and received 126 votes, all Republican.

A summary of the legislation can be found on AACC's Web site.

The action now moves to the Senate, where the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee must approve companion legislation by October 15. Senate legislation is expected to be introduced soon, as early as next week, with a committee markup shortly thereafter.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Alert! H.R. 3221 Vote Coming This Week

Urge Your Representative to Vote for H.R. 3221!

This week, H.R. 3221, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009, will be brought to the House floor for a vote. This landmark legislation contains the American Graduation Initiative, the $12 billion initiative proposed by President Obama and focused on community colleges. This is the largest single Federal investment ever made in community colleges. AACC strongly supports H.R. 3221 and urges you to contact your Representative to ask for their vote for the bill.

H.R. 3221 includes the following:

• $6.3 billion in grant funding to community colleges over the next ten years;
• $2.5 billion in facilities funding, made available on October 1, 2010;
• Guaranteed annual increases in the Pell Grant maximum, to ensure that it continues to grow faster than inflation;
• Guaranteed funding for Hispanic-Serving Institutions;
• Simplification of the application form and process for Federal student aid

You can contact your contact your Representative through http://www.congressweb.com/cweb4/index.cfm?orgcode=aacc&hotissue=1000. Also, you can find more information on this legislation on the AACC Web site.

Register Now for the American Association of Community Colleges' Washington Institute!
November 8-10, 2009
The Washington Court Hotel, Washington, D.C.

AACC's Washington Institute provides an insider's view of how Washington works. Sessions will address targeting federal resources, influencing legislation, and shaping media coverage. Join AACC in advocating for President Obama's American Graduation Initiative. Register online, and receive updated information at AACC's Web site! For more information, please contact Katharine Carter at (202)728-0200, ext. 225 or kcarter@aacc.nche.edu.***ERROR*** (#malformed)
American Association of Community Colleges
One Dupont Circle
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Friday, September 4, 2009

Congress Comes Back Next Week

Congress returns next week from its annual August recess to a daunting agenda. Health care reform legislation will top that list, with President Obama addressing a joint session of Congress on that topic on September 9. Congress will also have to finalize the appropriations bills for fiscal year 2010, which begins on October 1, although that process will certainly not be concluded by then. Energy legislation is also near the top of many legislators' wish lists for completion this year.

Also near the top of the agenda is the higher education budget reconciliation legislation that contains President Obama's American Graduation Initiative. Before the August recess, the House Education and Labor Committee passed their version of this legislation, H.R. 3221. The full House is expected to take up this legislation in the next few weeks.

Senate staffers have been busy over the recess crafting their version of this important legislation, and we expect that it will be introduced by late September. The FY 2010 budget sets an October 15 deadline for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee to report out their bill.

AACC has voiced strong support for H.R. 3221, with its substantial infusion of resources into the nation's community colleges. However, we continue to seek improvements to this legislation in key areas, as detailed on the AACC website. The AACC government relations staff recently concluded its first webinar on the American Graduation Initiative, and plans to conduct two more. We'll be getting out the details soon. There will also be on online jam in support of the initiative on September 16.