ACCT President & CEO J. Noah Brown Testifies on Capitol Hill

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Testimony to House Committee on Education and the Workforce emphasizes importance of supporting America's College Promise, access to student aid & repayment reform; objects to "skin in the game."

This afternoon, J. Noah Brown, president and CEO of the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), offered testimony to House Committee on Education and Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-Va.), who convened a listening session on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Brown's testimony, available here, thanks Ranking Member Scott for sponsoring the America's College Promise, and emphasizes the importance of making federal financial aid available to community college students so that they can access and succeed in higher education and find sustainable work that provides a living wage.

"Student aid is the bedrock of federal postsecondary education policy," Brown states in his testimony. "Although community colleges are some of the most affordable options in our postsecondary system, many students rely on federal aid to subsidize the costs of tuition, fees, books, supplies, and living expenses. Many others, however, still struggle to pay for college and do not access the aid they need."

Brown's testimony urges Congress to support existing aid programs, including Pell Grants. Brown notes that community college students receive more Pell funding than any other sector of higher education, and makes a case for the reinstatement of year-round Pell Grants, increasing the maximum number of semesters a student can receive Pell funding from 12 to 14, and continuing to increase Pell funding to offset inflation.

Brown also encourages simplifying the repayment process, citing troubling results from a recent ACCT report, A Closer Look at the Trillion, which shows that nearly half of all student loan defaulters borrowed $5,000 or less, 93 percent of defaulters were enrolled in a standard repayment plan despite the availability of better options, and one of the federal government's loan servicers had a 73 percent loan default rate. These findings are evidence of a need for reform to existing repayment processes.

Finally, Brown's testimony opposes "skin in the game" proposals that would hold colleges accountable for repaying defaulted student loans, stating that "institutions inherently have 'skin in the game' through their own and their states' investments in student success and any policies related to risk sharing would undermine the mission of community colleges and jeopardize the open access, support services, and relative affordability that they offer." ACCT encourages "a more constructive policy solution" in which the federal government would bolster support for institutions that enroll high-risk students, and in which states would reinvest in their community colleges.

Read Brown's full testimony.

For more information, contact David Conner at dconner(at)acct(dot)org or 202.775.4454.

About the Association of Community College Trustees
The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) is a non-profit educational organization of governing boards, representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern over 1,200 community, technical, and junior colleges in the United States and beyond. For more information, go to http://www.acct.org. Follow ACCT on Twitter at twitter.com/CCTrustees

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David Conner
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