Federal Legislative Update || Chairman Lamar Alexander’s Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019

written by | Aly Hagglund, Director of Communications


Student Policy Alliance: Coalition of statewide student associations and similar student-led, student-elected organizations that represents more than six million students at over 400 higher education institutions. Launched by National Campus Leadership Council in 2019, the Alliance supports advocacy, collection action, and consensus-building around a shared set of higher education policy priorities that address the issues today’s students face.

Summary of what is happening:

On September 17th, the House passed the FUTURE Act, which provided $255 million in federal funding for historically Black colleges and universities [HBCUs] and other minority-serving institutions [MSIs]. On Thursday, September 19th, Senator Doug Jones [D-Ala] went to the Senate floor to ask unanimous consent on passing the FUTURE Act prior to the funding expiration. However, Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander [R-Tenn], objected, shutting down the vote. Senator Alexander then proposed the funding be extended through a broader higher education proposal. As the funding for HBCUs and MSIs end on September 30th, a new bill by Chairman Alexander had to be swiftly introduced.

The Bill:

On Thursday, September 26, 2019, Chairman Alexander presented Bill S.2557.

The bill does move to simplify FAFSA, but Students United doesn’t see that the bill goes far enough to address rising costs of college tuition, student safety, access to an affordable education for all students, or solutions to address the issue of students’ basic needs not being met.

Students United’s Stance:

“We stand with our Student Policy Alliance partners, who represent over 6.1 million students across the United States, in calling for a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. While we realize that there are positive aspects of the current legislation, we also understand that this bill does little to address systemic inequities in higher education.  

As the representative entity of the 65,000 Minnesota State university students, we call on legislators to reject the current proposal and to continue working toward a comprehensive solution that fully addresses the ever-increasing barriers to higher education access and affordability. “

Students United also signed on to a letter with other organizations a part of the the Student Policy Alliance [SPA]. This statement and statements from others in the SPA, can be found here.

Helpful Link:

Politico | Alexander's HEA proposal receives mixed reviews

Inside Higher Education | Alexander Makes Play for Narrow Higher Ed Deal