Mar 24 2017
WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) helped introduce legislation to make college more affordable and accessible by expanding opportunities for high school students to earn college credit.
The Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act (MEAA) would improve access to higher education by providing grants to eligible institutions of higher learning to create dual and concurrent enrollment and early/middle college programs that allow high school students to earn college credits before their high school graduation.
“This legislation creates an affordable opportunity for students to develop real-world skills employers need while pursing higher education. These programs have been beneficial in Arkansas by helping prepare students to enter the workforce as future employees for local businesses,” Boozman said.
The Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act (MEAA) would allow Higher Education Act Title VII Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) funding to be used to provide grants to colleges and universities. These grants can be used to:
· Offer dual and concurrent enrollment programs as well as early/middle college programming, including covering tuition, fees, books and materials for students;
· Provide professional development services to teachers in these programs; and
· Support course design, course approval processes, community outreach, student counseling and support services.
Concurrent enrollment programs allow high school students to earn college credit by taking college-level courses that are taught by college-approved high school instructors within a supportive high school environment. High school students in dual enrollment programs take college-level courses while separately enrolled in both their high school and a college or university. Middle and early college high schools and programs introduce students to college-level courses as they work towards an associate’s degree or technical certification while completing their high school diploma. This model often includes a 13th year to allow students to complete their associate’s degree. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) early college students on average earn 36 college credits, and 30 percent of early college students earn an associate’s degree.
Boozman joined U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Al Franken (D-MN), and U.S. Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO) and Tom Reed (R-NY) to reintroduce the bipartisan, bicameral legislation.
The Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act (MEAA) is supported by a broad coalition of educational organizations, including the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships, Council of Chief State School Officers, ACT, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, National Education Association, Knowledge Alliance, Community Training and Assistance Center, the American Federation of Teachers, BARD College, Jobs for the Future, Middle College National Consortium and Education Northwest.
In 2015, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), legislation that strengthens state and local control to improve student achievement. The legislation included an amendment authored by Boozman that integrates rigorous academic coursework with career and technical education (CTE) and real-world skills based on industry needs and contexts.