Rosen, Coons Introduce Legislation to Increase College Access and Graduation Rates

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), helped introduce the Access, Success, and Persistence In Reshaping Education (ASPIRE) Act alongside Senator Chris Coons (D-DE). This legislation would incentivize colleges to expand access to resources for low and middle-income students and increase graduation rates for all students.

“As the first person in my family to receive a college degree, I understand the challenges that first-generation college students go through. While a record number of students from low-income families are attending college across the country, more must be done to ensure these students successfully graduate with a degree,” said Senator Rosen. “This legislation would dedicate more resources towards helping low-income and first-generation college students graduate. I’m proud to support the ASPIRE Act, which would create a new grant program that prioritizes eligible minority-serving institutions, such as UNLV, and help these students get the support they need to succeed.”

BACKGROUND: Currently, the U.S. government spends roughly $160 billion each year in federal student aid and tax benefits to help low-and middle-income students. Despite the significant federal investment in the higher education system, U.S. college graduation rates are currently among the lowest in the developed world. 

The Access, Success, and Persistence In Reshaping Education (ASPIRE) Act would help set benchmarks and priorities while also rewarding institutions that are already on the right track when it comes to access and completion. This bill would make additional competitive funding available for completion efforts, with priority for minority-serving institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Finally, it enables high-performing institutions on access and completion to apply for non-financial rewards, such as bonus points in federal competitive grants or a reduced regulatory burden.

The Access, Success, and Persistence In Reshaping Education (ASPIRE) Act is supported by Education Reform Now, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, the National Education Association, the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, The Education Trust, Third Way, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.