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Senators Promote Partnerships to Boost Affordability

August 3, 2021
 
 

Two senators hoping to establish a federal-state partnership to make college more affordable for students outlined their plan during a webinar hosted Monday by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Senators Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island, and Susan Collins, the Republican from Maine, said they believe they can get buy-in from states for the Partnerships for Affordability and Student Success, or PASS, Act because their proposed legislation would help states better educate their workforce and, in turn, boost their competitiveness in the global market.

"I think governors understand that they are in a global competition for jobs and for good companies coming into their states," Reed said. "And when you look at the decisions companies are making, a lot of it is based on the quality of the workers in that particular state. I think that's the way to appeal to governors in terms our program -- this is going to help you be competitive in a very competitive global economy."

Under the PASS Act, for every $1 that states invest in higher education, the federal government would invest $2. At least half of that funding would be required to go toward need-based financial aid, and the rest could support activities that improve student outcomes. States would also be required to release an annual report outlining student outcomes, workforce outcomes, college costs and higher education-related consumer complaints that were reported.

Collins said she would prefer to pass the PASS Act over other proposals for federal-state partnerships that increase college affordability -- such as President Biden's plan for free community college -- because it would provide students with more choices.

"From my perspective, a flaw in the free community college program is there may be a student who doesn't want to go to the community college -- who instead wants to go the local university or a liberal arts college or a trade program," Collins said. "It seems to limit choices, and that's why I would prefer to pass the PASS Act."

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