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November 10, 2019

College Affordability Act Heads To The Floor

On Oct. 31st, Democratic U.S. Representative David Trone and the Education and Labor committee succeeded in passing the College Affordability Act (CAA) onto the Senate floor.

In Trone’s words, “… [the] higher education system costs too much and [isn’t] putting students first… This monumental piece of legislation… focus[es] on getting an education and a good paying job.”

This is something that we, as college students, can agree on. The details of the College Affordability Act primarily focus on raising the amount given out by the Pell Grant and making loans easier to pay off, an effort in which the Democratic party hopes to influence more students from colorful backgrounds to partake in higher education opportunities with fewer burdens than they are currently facing. The CAA also is an effort to target universities that are strictly for profit.

To elaborate on the finer points of the bill, there are five principal aspects to the overhaul of the American education system. Among them are H.R. 3489 Higher Education Mental Health Act of 2019, H.R. 3591 Campus Prevention and Recovery Services for Students Act of 2019, H.R. 4073 Expanding Educational Opportunities for Justice-Impacted Communities Act, H.R. 3108 Teachers are Leaders Act of 2019, and the H.R. 4423 Teacher and School Leader Quality Partnership Act. The five features to the bill listed above have their own key impacts on equality they seek to tackle. Some of them have been amendments made after debating on the house floor, leaving a more likely chance for the bill, as a whole, to be passed once it has been put through the wringer in the senate.

For a more in-depth look at the different aspects of the bill, the Higher Education Mental Health Act of 2019 states that more awareness for students with mental health concerns needs to be spread and in addition, there should be more resources and opportunities for these students in need to receive professional help. This gives a better chance of success when in university and, in turn, a higher graduation and pass rate.

Campus Prevention and Recovery Services’ primary goal is to address students with substance abuse issues and increases the likelihood of students suffering getting the help necessary to free themselves of their addiction, something that often goes overlooked in the party-focused social media aspect of the average university population.

Expanding Educational Opportunities for Justice-Impacted Communities specializes in exactly what is in the title, ensuring students from less fortunate backgrounds have a more equal opportunity to not only enter college but succeed on campus as their more privileged peers are more likely to do.

The last two facets, the Teachers are Leaders act and the Teacher and School Leader Quality Partnership act both centers on ensuring that teachers are treated like the leaders that they are. The former of the two essentially gives more opportunities to teachers as professionals and individuals to safeguard the idea that our children are getting the best of the best from incredible people.

“Our children are messengers we send into the future we will never see… It’s time to invest in their future and give all Americans good, quality higher education that they deserve,” Trone says. 

All in all, the College Affordability Act seeks to implement the aforementioned aspects of the bill in a way that is cheaper than the current GOP Tax reduction. Democrats are referring to this act as responsible and feasible whereas Republicans believe it will be destructive because, as Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, said “it’s regrettable and disappointing… higher education has been so successful in the United States in large part because it has for so long enjoyed broad and deep public support.”

Even though graduation rates in the U.S have been gradually decreasing as the years progress. Democrats and Republicans disagree but that’s been the common acceptance since the late 18th to early 19th century.