New Legislation Would Fund Colleges and Universities to Expand Programs
On February 22, the Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act (MEAA) was introduced to amend the Higher Education Act to expand access to dual and concurrent enrollment programs across the country by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and in the house by Representatives Tom Reed (NY-23) and Jared Polis (CO-02). The MEAA would provide funding for the expansion of dual and concurrent enrollment programs by targeting an existing competitive federal grant program.
The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) was instrumental in getting provisions encouraging greater utilization of dual and concurrent enrollment programs as a critical strategy to prepare students for college in the recent reauthorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as well as getting dual and concurrent enrollment recognized the last time the Higher Education Act was reauthorized in 2008. It continues to work with a number of Congressional offices as conversations begin on the current reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, including the introduction of the MEAA.
"High-quality dual and concurrent enrollment programs have demonstrated positive impact on college transition, persistence, and completion, especially for students traditionally underrepresented in higher education," stated Adam Lowe, Executive Director, NACEP. "This bill will encourage colleges and universities to expand access to the students who will benefit the most from an early exposure to college."
Through the MEAA, money from the Higher Education Act Title VII Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) would be used to provide grants to colleges or universities to implement or expand dual and concurrent enrollment programs as well as provide teachers with professional development and support associated activities such as course design, course approval processes, student counseling, etc.
“The escalating cost of higher education should not deter hardworking, motivated students from obtaining a quality higher education,” said Senator Peters. “I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan bill to help reduce the price tag for higher learning by allowing students to complete college-level courses while they are still in high school. Students will save time and money as they kick-start their careers through a personalized curriculum.”
“We care about ensuring our students have access to a quality education that will prepare them for the career opportunities of today and tomorrow,” said Congressman Reed. “Dual and concurrent enrollment programs are a valuable tool in reducing the cost of college and expanding educational access for hardworking local families. That is why I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Congressman Polis and Senators Peters and Cassidy and look forward to continuing to work with them in promoting commonsense higher education solutions.”
Concurrent enrollment provides high school students the opportunity to take college-credit bearing courses taught by college-approved high school teachers. It is a low-cost, scalable model for bringing accelerated courses to students in urban, suburban, and rural high schools. Students gain exposure to the academic challenges of college while in their supportive high school environment, earning transcripted college credit at the time they successfully pass the course.