• Legislation & Analysis
  • June18th

    The Student Aid  Alliance wrote to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee expressing its “strong concern” with the use of “fair-value” estimates for federal credit programs.   The Alliance urged the Committee to support students by supporting accuracy and transparency in budget scoring and rejecting the fair value methodology that will likely result in policy choices detrimental to students.  Below is our letter to Sen. Dan Coats, Chairman, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee.


    On behalf of the over eighty member organizations and institutions of the Student Aid Alliance, which represents students, college presidents, and other educators who support federal student aid, we write to express our strong concern with the use of so-called “fair-value” estimates for federal credit programs. As the Joint Economic Committee explores this issue, we would like to highlight the significant damage a move to this scoring method would have for the federal student loan programs.

    We believe that policy decisions should be made based on the real impact to the Treasury of those decisions. “Fair-value” estimates depend on the inclusion of phantom costs to the scoring of federal credit programs, creating the illusion of deficits without any corresponding impact on the Treasury. Far from better-informing the annual budget and appropriations process, the production of fair-value scores would greatly complicate the process and reduce transparency and comparability.

    The implications for student loans of such an approach are significant, and dangerous. CBO estimates that shifting from the current, accurate method to “fair-value” scoring would show an increased deficit of $223 billion over ten years, with no changes to the underlying programs. As Congress considers reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the use of these erroneous, phantom costs will inevitably force policy choices that will be detrimental to students.

    We urge you to support America’s students by supporting accuracy and transparency in budget scoring, and rejecting the gimmicks inherent in the “fair-value” methodology.


    Molly Corbett Broad

    David Warren


    Click here to see the PDF version.

  • April8th

    Recently, Rep. Paul Ryan released a preliminary budget for fiscal year 2015. Below is our response, in the form of a letter we sent to the House of Representatives–including Rep. Ryan, who is chairman of the House Budget Committee–on April 7, 2014.

    Dear Representative:

    On behalf of the millions of students, educators, administrators and college presidents we represent, we urge you to oppose the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Budget Resolution when it comes to the floor for a vote.

    The budget proposed by Chairman Ryan for FY 2015 would make devastating cuts to college aid and access programs. It would do so at a time when America needs more skilled workers than it has, and is in danger of losing the intellectual arms race with countries such as China, India and South Korea, which have chosen to accelerate their investments in postsecondary education.

    Among the damaging changes proposed by this budget resolution are:

    • Freezing the maximum Pell Grant at $5,730 for the next 10 years, and eliminating mandatory funding for the program. This would result in a loss of $90 billion for the foundation of federal student aid.
    • Eliminating or reducing eligibility criteria for Pell Grants, causing millions of students to lose their Pell Grants entirely or see them significantly reduced.
    • Eliminating the in-school interest subsidy for student loans, making undergraduate loans more expensive by $41 billion over 10 years.
    • Repealing the expansion of the Income-Based Repayment program, simultaneously adding burden to students while restricting the tools they have to repay their debts.
    • Proposing deep cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding, and shifting defense sequester cuts to non-defense programs starting in FY 2016, which would result in NDD funding below the FY 2013 sequester levels.

    This budget resolution would devastate funding for the other core postsecondary aid programs. Programs like the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Work Study, TRIO, GEAR UP and others would face significant reductions, leaving deserving students with fewer and fewer resources just as Pell Grants are cut and the cost of borrowing rises significantly.

    Cuts like these are simply unsustainable if America aims to continue its leadership role in the world economy. Rather than building a stronger country with the skills and talents to excel in the global marketplace, this budget would put American students and workers at a disadvantage relative to their competition abroad. It would be damaging now, and for decades to come.

    We urge you to vote against this budget resolution and to support a stronger, better educated and more competitive American future.


    Molly Corbett Broad

    David Warren

    On behalf of: 

    Alliance for Excellent Education
    American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education 
    American Association of Colleges of Nursing 
    American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine 
    American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy 
    American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers 
    American Association of Community Colleges 
    American Association of State Colleges and Universities 
    American Association of University Professors 
    American Council on Education 
    American Dental Education Association 
    American Federation of Teachers
    American Indian Higher Education Consortium 
    American Society for Engineering Education 
    American Student Association of Community Colleges 
    APPA: Leadership in Educational Facilities
    Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools 
    Association of American Law Schools 
    Association of American Medical Colleges 
    Association of American Universities
    Association of Community College Trustees 
    Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges 
    Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities 
    Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities 
    Association of Research Libraries 
    Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations 
    College Parents of America 
    Columbia University
    Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area
    Council for Christian Colleges and Universities 
    Council for Higher Education Accreditation 
    Council for Opportunity in Education 
    Council of Graduate Schools 
    Council of Independent Colleges 
    Educational Testing Service 
    Georgetown University
    Harvard University
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Michigan State University
    NAFSA: Association of International Educators
    NASSGAP Federal Relations Committee
    National Association for College Admission Counseling 
    National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education 
    National Association of College and University Business Officers 
    National Association of College Stores 
    National Association of Graduate and Professional Students 
    National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
    National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs 
    National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators 
    National College Access Network 
    National Collegiate Athletic Association
    National Council for Community and Education Partnerships 

    National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs, Inc. 
    National Council of University Research Administrators 
    National Education Association
    New York Higher Education Services Corp.
    New York Student Aid Alliance
    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
    Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education 
    The California State University
    The College Board
    The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
    The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
    The Ohio State University
    U.S. Public Interest Research Group 
    United Negro College Fund 
    United States Student Association 
    University of California
    University of Maryland System
    University of Massachusetts System
    University of Michigan
    University of Southern California
    University of Washington
    University Professional & Continuing Education Association 
    Utah Valley State College
    Vanderbilt University
    Womens College Coalition


  • January15th

    Congressional negotiators on Monday released details on the final FY 2014 omnibus spending package, which would fund all federal government agencies through Sept. 30. Among the higher education provisions in the $1.1 trillion bill are increases for research and student aid programs that begin to restore spending to pre-sequestration levels.

    The measure, known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, puts specifics on the budget agreement the House and Senate passed in December. That deal set the discretionary spending level for FY 2014 at about halfway between the relatively high number originally approved by the Senate and the much lower number adopted by the House. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the measure by Sunday. Most of the government has been operating at FY 2013 levels since Oct. 1, 2013, when FY 2014 began.

    On January 14, the American Council on Education sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives; below is a transcript of that letter.

    Dear Representative,

    We write as organizations representing the nation’s colleges and universities to express our support for the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. This bipartisan bill takes important steps toward offsetting the damaging cuts imposed by sequestration on the education and innovation programs that spur economic growth. By reversing the recent trend of cutting funding to the programs that make America competitive, the omnibus appropriations bill lays the groundwork for strengthening our country going forward.

    We are pleased that this legislation provides a level of funding for Pell Grants, Federal Work-Study (FWS) and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) that will enable millions of low- income students to pursue a college education. We are particularly pleased that the funding provided for FWS and SEOG nearly reverses the cuts imposed by sequestration. The bill also restores recently eliminated funding for the TRIO and GEAR UP Programs that help students prepare for, access and succeed in postsecondary education. Furthermore, programs supporting institutions serving historically underserved populations received a partial restoration of the funding cut by sequestration. These increases will help to strengthen the capacity of these colleges to fulfill their important missions.

    While the bill provides increases in funding for the National Institutes for Health and the National Science Foundation, their budgets are still well short of pre-sequester levels. In the short-term, the additional funding provided will help to slow the significant loss of scientific research and begin to bridge the innovation deficit we have experienced as a result of the earlier cuts. We support this bill as a positive step, but encourage Congress to continue to deepen our nation’s investment in critical scientific and biomedical research.

    The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 takes important steps to reverse the damage caused by indiscriminate sequestration cuts by restoring much of the impacted funding for student aid, institutional support and scientific research. We urge you to support this legislation when it comes to the floor.


    Molly Corbett Broad

    On behalf of:

    American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers
    American Association of Community Colleges
    American Association of State Colleges and Universities American Indian Higher Education Consortium American Council on Education
    Association of American Universities
    Association of Community College Trustees
    Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges
    Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Council for Christian Colleges & Universities Council for Opportunity in Education
    Council of Graduate Schools
    Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
    National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators UNCF

  • December19th

    As Congress winds down for its holiday break, there is still much work to be done. A bipartisan budget deal is gaining steam, but we want to ensure the harmful cuts to student aid as a result of the sequester are ultimately reversed. Consequently, the co- chairmen of Student Aid Alliance, Molly Corbett Broad and David Warren, recently penned a letter to Reps. Harold Rogers and Nita Lowey, and Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Richard Shelby, chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, respectively. The letter was sent December 19, 2013.

    Dear Chairs and Ranking Members:

    On behalf of the millions of students, educators, administrators and college presidents we represent, we write to request that you provide the highest possible allocation for the fiscal year 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, and use this funding to reverse the harmful cuts to student financial aid imposed by sequestration.

    With the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, Congress has the opportunity to undo the damage caused by sequestration to American college students. Across-the-board cuts reduced critical student aid funding just as demand for educated workers spiked.

    Examples of these cuts include:

    • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) funding was reduced by over $38 million in FY13. These funds are overmatched by institutions to provide much greater aid to Pell-eligible students than the federal investment alone would allow.
    • Federal Work-Study (FWS) funding was cut by more than $51 million, reducing aid to low-income students working to support their educations.
    • Federal TRIO Programs saw their funding slashed by nearly $44 million, causing a disproportionate reduction in the services offered to students working to prepare for and complete their post-secondary degrees.
    • Similarly, Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) funding was cut by almost $16 million, undercutting these critical efforts to prepare low-income students for college.

    These cuts do not include the sequestration-imposed increase in origination fees on loans, which forces students to pay more to the federal government simply for the right to borrow. Combined with previous funding cuts, the budget-driven elimination of the LEAP Program, and a decades- long trend of states’ substantial divestment in higher education funding, college access and success have never been more challenging for low- and middle-income students.

    This is a deeply counterproductive policy at a time when our economic competitors are pouring money into their postsecondary education systems. Our nation needs the skilled, innovative thinkers that colleges and universities produce to grow our economy. There is an expanding shortage of workers qualified to fill available positions, while unemployment is still too high.

    The FY14 appropriations bills will offer Congress the opportunity to begin addressing these challenges, and to move toward greater competitiveness, productivity and economic growth through a better educated workforce.

    We urge you to support the financial aid programs and reverse the harmful cuts imposed by sequestration in the FY14 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill.


    Molly Corbett Broad

    David Warren

  • October31st

    The federal government is dealing with a lot right now — important issues such as healthcare reform, sequestration and looming budget talks. Pell grants and federal student aid is also in that mix, but we want to ensure that issue has a spot near the front of the line. Consequently, the co- chairmen of Student Aid Alliance, Molly Corbett Broad and David Warren, recently penned a letter to Rep. Patty Murphy and Rep. Paul Ryan, who sit on the budget committees for the United States Senate and House, respectively. Below is a transcript of that letter, which was sent October 30, 2013.

    Dear Chairman Ryan and Chairman Murray:

    On behalf of the more than 60 organizations in the Student Aid Alliance, we ask you to support the federal student aid programs in the FY 2014 House and Senate budget conference. As you work with your colleagues to reconcile the differences between the two budgets, please keep in mind that today’s college students represent the future of our economy. Helping low-income students pay for college is one of the most important investments we can make in our country.

    To keep Pell Grants, student loans, campus-based aid, early intervention programs, and graduate education strong, funding for non-defense discretionary appropriations should be set at the highest level possible. We support repealing the sequester, as it has disproportionately impacted non-defense discretionary programs. The sequester slashed education funding to FY 2004 levels, making college more expensive for the very students who struggle most to afford it.

    More specifically, federal student aid programs have been cut by more than $23 billion since FY 2011.  Pell Grant eligibility has been narrowed; the LEAP Program has been eliminated; across-the-board cuts have whittled down campus-based aid, TRIO, GEAR UP and graduate education; and student loans costs have increased. These programs cannot be cut any more. Low-income students should not bear the burden of deficit reduction.

    Federal support for student aid is directly paid back to society by a more highly skilled workforce, lower unemployment, less dependence on government assistance, and increased global competitiveness. We urge you to support the federal student aid programs in any budget agreement you may reach.


    Molly Corbett Broad

    David Warren

  • September6th

    On July 1, 2013 interest rates on many new federal student loans doubled–endangering the dreams of many middle class families. If this sounds familiar, its because we went through this last summer. The Student Aid Alliance rallied thousands of students across the country and Twitter was ablaze with the hashtag #studentfiscalcliff — we were out to let lawmakers know not to balance the budget on the backs of our nation’s college students.

    Congress kept interest rates low for one year–and now, that year has disappeared. Congress let the July 1 deadline pass without a deal, so come the fall, the interest rate on new subsidized student loans doubled from 3.4% to 6.8%. According to the White House, nearly seven million students will be affected by the rate increase, adding around $4.3 billion to the student debt burden next year.

    Even though the deadline has passed, Congress is still negotiating. Stay in the loop here.

    Pondering Pell (Inside Higher Education)

    Student-Loan Changes, With Lower Rates for Now, Are Set to Be Signed Into Law (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

    Congress Approves Student Loan Plan (Washington Post)

    Obama Administration Urges Passage of Senate Student-Loan Compromise (Education Week)

    Senate Reaches Deal to End Fight Over Student Loan Interest Rates (The New York Times)

    Senate Crafts a Deal on Student-Loan Interest Rates (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

    Senate Negotiates on Loans as Clock Ticks (National Journal)

    Even With Student-Loan Compromise, Rates Will Likely Increase (National Journal)

    Interest-Rate Jump Would Cost Average Borrowers $2,600 Over 10 Years (Chronicle of Higher Education)

    Senators Scramble to Prevent Doubling of Student-Loan Rates (National Journal)

    Kline Calls for Compromise on Student Loan Rates (Education & the Workforce Committee)

    Arne Duncan Bullish on Student Loan Deal (Politico.com)

    Everything You Need to Know About the Student Loan Rate Hike (Washington Post)

    Arne Duncan Signals Worry Over Student Debt Levels (Huffington Post)

    Moral Bankruptcy on Student Loans (Huffington Post)