The CEO Council for Growth has asked its members and members of the Greater Philadelphia Regional College and University Presidents’ Council (Presidents’ Council) to contact members of Congress about supporting a pro-growth education agenda which promotes access to higher education in our region while ensuring that Greater Philadelphia benefits from an educated and skilled workforce.
In addition to the principles outlined in the letter below, the CEO Council is also encouraging the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), which provides students with the opportunity to access, enter, and succeed in post-secondary learning. Collectively, these policies will stimulate growth in the region and will help to ensure that the region can educate and retain the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.
“As members of the Greater Philadelphia Regional College and University Presidents’ Council (Presidents’ Council), an affiliate of the CEO Council for Growth (CEO Council) and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, we call on you today to move forward a pro-growth education agenda which promotes access to higher education in our region while ensuring that Greater Philadelphia benefits from an educated and skilled workforce.
The CEO Council and the Presidents’ Council recognize that educational attainment is the biggest predictor of success for our region. However, despite the fact that Greater Philadelphia encompasses the world’s leading concentration of college and universities, educating more than 420,000 students annually, the region continues to lag behind our peers in the educational attainment of our residents. Many of the region’s residents do not have access to or lack the basic educational skills required for an advanced education which ranks us 11th out of the top 20 largest metropolitan areas in the country in post-secondary degree attainment.
The FY16 budget conference agreement includes significant cuts in discretionary spending and an overhaul of entitlement programs, including higher education. We urge Congress to consider the following principles to assure our region’s residents have access to and can afford a post-secondary education in part by providing adequate federal funding as well as reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.
Together, the CEO Council and the Presidents’ Council are focused on strengthening Greater Philadelphia’s workforce and believe that this can be accomplished by:
- Opposing a freeze on the maximum Pell Grant award at $5,775 for 10 years as proposed in the conferenced FY16 budget agreement. Freezing the maximum Pell Grant in conjunction with eliminating the student loan profit funding stream (which accounts for $915 of the current Pell Grant maximum award) will put tremendous pressure under the current spending caps to maintain the program moving forward. Without this vital award, lower income students will be forced to borrow more or forgo college all together;
- Maintaining the in-school interest subsidy on Stafford loans for low-income students. Eliminating the in-school subsidy as proposed in both budget resolutions increases student debt by 15% as interest begins accruing the minute the loan is disbursed;
- Strengthening tax benefits available to students by streamlining and simplifying existing Education Tax Credits. Eliminate confusion and complexity as to which benefit to utilize while maintaining the three current principles: providing benefits for saving for college, paying tuition and repaying student loans;
- Assisting institutions in ensuring federal money benefits students by examining alternate disbursement schedules and acknowledging that students do not always fit the “traditional” model of the past;
- Reducing federal “red tape” for both institutions and students by eliminating regulatory burdens and simplifying the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA);
- Supporting innovation by increasing funding for federal research and development (R&D), including funding for the National Institutes for Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as well as others;
- Supporting the Federal Work Study Program which provides a valuable tool for institutions to provide real job experience prior to graduation; and
- Increasing the number of H-1B visas and spots available to highly educated and skilled immigrants. In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, we would ask that you support efforts to move this important legislation as a standalone bill.
Collectively, these policies will stimulate growth in our region and will help to ensure that we are educating, and retaining, the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. Now is the time for Washington leaders to act and ensure that the United States can continue to compete on the global stage. We urge Congress to support a pro-growth education agenda which ensures that the Greater Philadelphia region continues to educate and employ some of the best and the brightest.”