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.