Obama’s Plan for Higher Education
President-elect Barack Obama
This week’s JBHE bulletin provides a point-by-point description of President-elect Barack Obama’s plan for higher education. To summarize, his plan will address many of the obstacles that have traditionally limited low-income and minority students’ access to educational opportunity.
Obama’s proposal for higher ed reform includes:
- A simplified federal financial aid for.
- Funding to create partnerships that will aid community colleges in transferring greater numbers of students to 4-year institutions.
- Early assessment programs to determine whether low-income and minority high school students are being adequately prepared for post-secondary education.
- An increase in the maximum Pell Grant award.
- A $4000 credit for college students.
I applaud Obama’s efforts to increase low-income and minority student access to higher education. In our rapidly changing economy, a college education is fast becoming a necessity for any level of upward mobility and financial self-determination.
I would also encourage the President-elect to consider the following additional proposals, each of which would expand access to higher education even further, by addressing some of the hidden issues of access, funding, and equity that have come to light in more recent years:
- Eligibility for federal financial should be expanded to include those undocumented young people who completed all of their formal (K -12) education in the United States. A growing number of young people are facing the difficulty of having crossed the U.S. border with their parents, as babies or pre-schoolers, and then educated and raised in the public school system, but without ever acquiring permanent resident or citizenship status. A number of such students are not even aware that they are undocumented until they attempt to apply for federal financial aid, at which point they find themselves in a type of financial and educational limbo. Without citizenship or permanent resident status, such students are subject to the same financial aid guidelines that are applied to international students, a label that contradicts how such students understand themselves, as American students with immigrant parents.
- Institutions a) whose endowments total either $1billion dollars or more, or b) with endowments of more than $1 million dollars per students should be required to offer tuition-free education to students whose family incomes are less than 5x the annual cost of tuition, room, and board. Such institutions’ non-profit status will be conditional, pending their adoption of this policy.
- Young men would no longer be required to register with Selective Service as a condition for receiving federal financial aid. The various branches of the armed forces would, however, have the same rights (no more and no less) to recruit on college campuses as corporations and other government and non-government employers.
Posted by Ajuan Mance