ACPA-College Student Educators-International, along with other notable organizations dedicated to the advancement of higher education, spoke out against the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform Act (PROSPER), or the next reauthorization of the Higher Education Act H.R,4508 in December 2017. With consideration for the impact on college affordability and other provisions that would negatively affect students, ACPA will stand with students against this harmful bill.

Although we appreciate some elements of the bill, for example the provision calling for institutions to report child care resources available to students, we do not believe that the benefits outweigh the negative impact this bill would have. Specifically, this bill would eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program which would affect many in the community of higher education as well as those pursuing careers in public service. The bill proposes funding cuts for the TRIO program by $50 million. This bill would also be harmful for graduate students, who would face a limit on federal graduate loans, potentially leading to an increased amount of private loan borrowing. The PROSPER Act would impact low-income students by stagnating Pell Grants; this bill does not renew the provision that allows the Pell Grant to keep up with inflation. As outlined in our joint statement with ACE and other associations, the PROSPER Act’s proposal to eliminate subsidized interest for undergraduate students with financial need would lead to a 44% increase in the cost of borrowing for an undergraduate students taking out $19,000 over the course of four years. Finally, this bill impacts the Federal Work Study structure and makes graduate and professional students ineligible for the program.

In 1972, the Higher Education Act was amended to include Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex by any federally funded education program or activity. The PROSPER Act would change Title IX such that campus sexual assault investigations may be put at a standstill by criminal investigation inquiries, potentially leading to fewer sexual assault victims coming forward with their stories. Title IV (1965) of the HEA provides for federal student loans and grants for college students attending a Title IV eligible institution. The PROSPER Act would change accountability structures currently in place under Title IV, including repealing the “90/10” Rule, which states that Title IV schools must have at least 10% of income from sources outside of Title IV funding. The PROSPER Act also requires a 25% graduation/transfer rate for Minority Serving Institutions grant funds, essentially using this new system of measurement to further decrease financial backing for these institutions.

As an association that prioritizes student success, we believe that the affordability and accessibility of higher education matters. We encourage our community to learn more about this issue and how this legislation would affect students.

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