CLASP Applauds the Introduction of the Aim Higher Act

As Congress considers the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) applauds Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and House Education and Workforce Committee Democrats for introducing the Aim Higher Act (AHA). This comprehensive HEA bill promotes college access, affordability, equity, and student success in higher education and incorporates provisions that CLASP has long supported.

“Unlike the PROSPER Act (H.R. 4508), which guts nearly $15 billion from federal student aid and makes college more expensive, the AHA calls for new investments and strengthens key federal programs that help reduce poverty, increase economic security, and improve the health and wellbeing of students. In a globally competitive economy, it’s imperative that low-income students, students of color, and immigrants have access to an affordable, high-quality education that prepares them for family-sustaining jobs and helps them move along pathways out of poverty,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of CLASP.

To alleviate the unmet needs of low-income students, the bill boosts the purchasing power of the Pell Grant award and creates a new federal-state partnership that makes two years of community college free for every student. Importantly, the bill restores Pell Grants to incarcerated individuals and expands student aid to undocumented immigrant youth. The bill’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) simplification provisions increase support for working students, streamline the financial aid process, and expand access to more low-income students.

The AHA supports critical investments that promote equity in higher education. Students of color, part-time students, and student parents will be better able to succeed thanks to the AHA’s inclusion of much-needed funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions, comprehensive student supports in community colleges, campus-based child care services, college readiness and early college high schools, and institutional compliance of civil rights laws.

CLASP will continue working with members in both the House and Senate, along with our federal and state partners, to advance a student-focused, bipartisan HEA bill. The AHA is a great starting point because it offers low-income students an affordable, high-quality postsecondary education, fosters equity and civic engagement, and promotes seamless pathways to family-sustaining jobs and careers.