Delgado Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Boost Financial Aid and Support for Working and Non-Traditional Students
KINGSTON, NY—Today, Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19), led Representatives Don Young (AK-AL), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), and Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02) in introducing H.R. 4216, the bipartisan Strengthening Financial Aid for Students Act, also known as Strengthening FAFSA, legislation that aims to increase higher education opportunities by providing the proper aid to non-traditional students who must work while pursuing their degree or take time-off to care for family, among other things. Strengthening FAFSA would allow more students to access higher education by extending students’ lifetime Pell Grant eligibility, and fortifying the Income Protection Allowance program.
“Every student deserves access to education - and too many New York students are saddled with prohibitive debt. Today, student debt in the U.S. totals more than $1.5 trillion, and in New York State the average student-loan debt per borrower grew by 36% from 2007 to 2017. This debt crisis prevents and delays graduates from starting businesses, purchasing farms, buying homes, beginning families, and saving for retirement.” Delgado continued, “That’s why I’m introducing bipartisan legislation to increase the Income Protection Allowance and extend students’ lifetime Pell Grant eligibility, allowing students increased flexibility to pursue educational opportunities. I’m pleased to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to introduce Strengthening FAFSA to give more students in Upstate New York and across the country access to higher education.”
“For many students in Alaska and across our nation, higher education can open countless doors of opportunity and it should be available to all who wish to pursue it,” said Congressman Don Young. “The Strengthening Financial Aid for Students Act takes important steps to make sure our students have the resources they need to finish college and can do so within their budgets without needlessly going into overly-burdensome debt. I am proud to support this bipartisan legislation and thank the co-leads for their leadership on behalf of our young people. Alaskan students have my commitment that I will continue working to ensure that they can achieve their dreams of higher education and are properly equipped to enter our workforce.”
“Working students should not lose financial aid for simply trying to cover their basic needs, nor should dire hardship lead to an exhaustion of Pell Grant eligibility, ” said Fitzpatrick. “Congress must seek solutions to the student debt crisis facing our country, and this bipartisan legislation is a step in the right direction.”
“Many students go to school while working, raising a family, or pursuing other goals, causing their degrees to take longer and cost more. The Strengthening Financial Aid for Students Act increases support for these students, as well as those pursuing traditional paths, by increasing the Pell Grant awards and availability. Access to education is essential to the success of our country, and I am proud to be a part of this bill that gives more students in South Jersey, and throughout the country better access to educational opportunities.” said Rep. Van Drew.
Strengthening FAFSA has been endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
The American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said, "The cost of a college degree is increasingly prohibitive for too many families, pauperizing an entire generation with crushing debt upon graduation. Part of helping people achieve a better life is helping make education more affordable and accessible, and clearing a pathway of opportunity so more students can access grants to make higher education a reality. The Strengthening Financial Aid for Students Act makes critical improvements to the Pell Grant system, and we thank Rep. Delgado for introducing it.”
“NEA is proud to support Rep. Delgado’s Strengthening FAFSA Act. Today’s student population is no longer the undergraduates of the past, and access to higher education for working and non-traditional students must be addressed. By increasing the Income Protection Allowance (IPA), this will aid hardworking students who are working professionals outside the classroom and help address rising costs associated with a college degree.” said Marc Egan, Director of Government Relations, National Education Association.
“By increasing lifetime eligibility limits on Pell Grants, the Strengthening Financial Aid for Students Act (Strengthening FAFSA) would expand college access for our nation’s neediest students. The bill also makes changes to the underlying federal student aid eligibility formula to ensure that working students are not unduly penalized when it comes to qualifying for financial aid. The financial aid community stands in support of this bill," said Justin Draeger, President & CEO, National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)
Strengthening FAFSA aims to allow more non-traditional students to access critical financial aid programs. This legislation would increase the number of semesters that a student is eligible to receive Pell Grant funding from 12 semesters to 14 semesters. Many students exhaust their Pell Grant eligibility before they are able to complete their program, often because of non-transferrable credits, the need to care for family members, and in extreme cases, attending fraudulent institutions. Strengthening FAFSA would also raise the allowable income threshold for aid eligibility, or the income protection allowance (IPA). Income for working or non-traditional students shouldn’t count against them when it comes to student aid eligibility—Strengthening FAFSA enacts a 35 percent increase to the IPA threshold, therefore shielding more of working students income from offsets to financial aid.