AccessLex Supports President Biden’s Commitment to Strengthening Higher Education Access
WEST CHESTER, PA, June 1, 2021 – AccessLex Institute is pleased to support the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget proposal, which highlights the Biden-Harris Administration’s continued commitment to supporting student-parents, strengthening higher education access for low-income families and students of color, and easing the burden of student debt.
Over the past decade, the cost of childcare has risen by 25 percent, with infant care costs now exceeding the average cost of in-state tuition at public 4-year colleges in 29 states and the District of Columbia. For student-parents, these high costs can sometimes lead to devoting less time to their studies or dropping out completely. That is why President Biden’s proposal to ensure that low- and middle-income families spend no more than seven percent of their income on childcare is so important as it would provide critical financial support to families who, in many cases, have limited access to affordable high-quality childcare and could go a long way toward increasing completion rates and improving academic success.
We also applaud President Biden’s commitment to investing in Black students and in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) by proposing an increase in Higher Education Act (HEA) Title III funding for institutional development, as well as two years of subsidized tuition for students from families earning less than $125,000 enrolled in a 4-year HBCU, MSI or Tribal College and University. For over a century, HBCUs have played an outsized role in educating Black students—they represent 3 percent of all colleges and universities but enroll 10 percent of Black undergraduates and award 17 percent of bachelor’s degrees earned by Black students. However, funding and resources for these institutions and other MSIs lag behind institutions that serve predominately White students. The funding proposed would help to address the existing inequities these institutions face and enable more students of color to pursue their educational dreams, which would not only benefit those individual graduates but would also strengthen their local communities and the economy.
We also agree with the Administration that improvements need to be made to strengthen the Income Driven Repayment (IDR) and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) programs, and we support the President’s call to work with Congress on these issues. The PSLF program continues to encourage individuals to pursue and persist in public service careers that benefit communities across this country. However, issues with implementation have shown that there is room for improvement. Additionally, strengthening the IDR program would provide much needed support to low-income borrowers, including graduate and professional borrowers who struggle with repayment but are often overlooked or penalized in the federal student loan reform discussion.
Lastly, we applaud President Biden’s proposal to provide $25 million in increased funding to the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) program, a debt relief program for borrowers who meet all of the qualifying criteria for PSLF except for enrollment in an eligible repayment plan. Like PSLF, strengthening TEPSLF would ensure that the federal government provides the student loan forgiveness that Congress intended over a decade ago in recognition of the tremendous benefits that public servants provide.
We look forward to working with Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration in their efforts to ease the burden of student debt and to strengthen higher education access for low-income families, student-parents, and students of color.
Read our letter to Congress regarding HEA Title III funding here.
Read our letter to Congress regarding the Child Care for Working Families Act here.
Read our HEA recommendations here.