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Letter to the House of Representatives on the College Opportunity and Affordability Act (H.R. 4137) - 02/07/08

February 07, 2008

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to express our support for the College Opportunity and Affordability Act (H.R. 4137). We urge you to vote YES on passage of this important legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.  We also urge you to see the attached list of NEA positions on selected amendments. Votes associated with these issues may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 110th Congress. 

We are very pleased that H.R. 4137 would:

  • Expand college access for low-income and minority students by allowing students to receive year-round Pell Grant scholarships and strengthening college readiness programs as well as increasing the authorized Pell Grant maximum to $9,000.
  • Streamline the federal student financial aid application. 
  • Create Community Colleges as Partners in Teacher Education grants which will provide needed support to establish teacher education programs that are aligned with four-year programs, so students can transition seamlessly from community colleges to four-year programs. 
  • Provide further assistance to community colleges in critical areas such as remedial education, rural development, and nursing education.
  • Ensure the continued use of two definitions of institutions of higher education, thus ensuring that the unique role of public and non-profit institutions is distinguished from for-profit institutions.
  • Provide new support for Predominantly Black Institutions and other Minority-Serving Institutions.
  • Support improvements that strive for seamless transfer between institutions of higher education.
  • Ensure equal college opportunities and fair learning environments for students with disabilities. 
  • Make textbook costs more manageable for students by helping them plan for textbook expenses in advance of each semester. 

While there is much to support in this legislation, we wish to reiterate our long-standing support for current "90/10" provisions aimed at ensuring that for-profit institutions have some non-Title IV income, which lends to their stability. Weakening of this provision, as H.R. 4137 does, causes us great concern. We hope to continue our dialogue with you on this important issue as the bill moves forward.

We thank the Committee for its work on this legislation and urge the House to support passage.


Diane Shust
Director of Government Relations   

Randall Moody
Manager of Federal Advocacy