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Introduction from Executive Director, Emily Shields

This week, the legislature began debating some of the remaining proposals on their agenda. They passed and the governor signed a bill to expand broadband access and continued to amend and move forward with bills on college free speech and racism training. We are continuing to monitor these proposals, neither of which have achieved final passage. Additionally, a new bill was introduced and moved quickly that would ban “vaccine passports” in the state. This includes banning any efforts to require vaccines for those entering public facilities and would mean Community Colleges cannot adopt any COVID vaccine requirements. At the federal level, President Biden released the American Families Plan and gave a speech to a joint session of Congress. Both focus heavily on Community Colleges. More information is below. On Wednesday, I participated in a roundtable discussion with Representative Cindy Axne. She invited leaders from a variety of workforce, public, and business entities to discuss infrastructure needs. I shared the facility and deferred maintenance needs on our campuses and the need for additional support for workforce training and education programs. Finally, on Thursday we announced our new Manufacturing 4.0 Consortium. This exciting statewide collaboration will keep us at the forefront in meeting workforce needs.

American Families Plan

On Wednesday, President Biden released his “American Families Plan.” ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown offered the following statement:

“Affordable, accessible postsecondary education is more important than ever before, given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on today’s students and the economy. By investing in tuition-free community college and increasing tuition assistance for students enrolled in HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs, the American Families Plan will help remove barriers to success for low-income students, students of color, Dreamers, and other individuals who have been historically underrepresented in higher education. The Association of Community College Trustees has long called for a federal program that supports tuition-free community college. We applaud President Biden’s commitment to making educational attainment a national priority.”

On social media, we shared this statement and added the following: “We join our national colleagues in thanking President Joe Biden for this important commitment to community colleges. We look forward to working together as this conversation continues to find ways to increase enrollment and attainment of degrees and credentials and reduce student debt.”

More about the proposal:

  • Two years of free Community College tuition and fees ($109 billion).

    • The federal government would cover about 75% of the average tuition cost in each state.

    • Students could use over three years, and if circumstances warrant, up to four years.

    • An estimated 5.5 million students would be helped and there would be no income cap.

  • Increase the maximum Pell grant award by $1,400 ($80 billion).

    • Nearly seven million students receive Pell on an annual basis.

    • The goal is to double the annual maximum Pell award and allow DREAMERS to access.

  • Invest in evidence-based strategies to strengthen completion and retention rates ($62 billion).

    • Grants to colleges that adopt innovative and proven solutions for student success.

    • Funding to support wraparound services such as child care, mentoring, and basic needs grants.

Learn more about this proposal.

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