WASHINGTON, April 28, 2021 –The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) congratulates President Joe Biden for unveiling the most expansive federal higher education initiative in more than 50 years. We celebrate the multiple provisions of President Biden’s American Families Plan (AFP) that will broaden access to higher education for all Americans. The AFP represents critical investments in higher education programs that will positively impact low-income students; educator preparation programs; and historically Black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and other minority-serving institutions.
AASCU enthusiastically endorses the need to strengthen the federal-state partnership to make the attainment of at least two years of higher education at public institutions as accessible as a high school education. We therefore encourage Congress to expand on the president’s proposal by extending tuition-free access for the first two years of higher education at all public institutions for eligible students and families.
“We should invest in the aspirations of all students with the greatest financial need, who have been underserved in the past, and regardless of status when they seek a bachelor’s or associate degree,” said Dr. Mildred García, president of AASCU.
AASCU institutions enroll 3.3 million undergraduate students, and 39% of them receive Pell Grants. Of the total percentage of Pell undergraduates enrolled at all four-year public colleges and universities, approximately 64% are from regional comprehensive universities that are represented by AASCU. Regional comprehensive institutions enroll the “new majority” of students and graduate a higher percentage of students receiving Pell Grants than other public four-year institutions. Regional comprehensives do so with lower median total revenues per FTE when compared to non-AASCU institutions.
The AFP needs to be as broad in its application as it is rightly ambitious in its goals. We look forward to working with the Biden administration and Congress as the proposed initiative makes its way through the legislative process.
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) is a Washington, D.C.-based higher education association of nearly 400 public colleges, universities, and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations, and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development. These are institutions Delivering America’s Promise. Visit us at www.aascu.org.