House Democrats Introduce Aim Higher Act

July 26, 2018

Last week, the Democratic Members of the House Committee on Education & the Workforce Committee introduced their response to the PROSPER Act. This bill, entitled the Aim Higher Act, places a particular emphasis on college access and affordability. With respect to the TRIO programs, in particular, the legislation proposes several changes that would have a positive impact on the programs.

Like the PROSPER Act, this legislation accepts many of the TRIO community’s proposed improvements to the law. These changes include re-branding “prior experience” as “accountability for outcomes,” establishing Pell Grant eligibility as a means of determining low-income status, and enhancing outcome criteria to better reflect students’ needs. The Aim Higher bill goes further, however, in strengthening the TRIO programs. For example, the legislation would:

  • affirm that programs can use students most recent FAFSA information to determine their income status
  • allow participation in free and reduced lunch programs to serve as a means of determining low-income status in Talent Search and EOC
  • increase the stipends for participants in Upward Bound and McNair

The legislation also calls for expanded outreach efforts to support homeless and foster youth through TRIO. Because of its overwhelming emphasis on strengthening the TRIO programs, COE supports the Aim Higher Act along with several other student advocacy and higher education associations.

The introduction of the Aim Higher Act represents another step forward in the revision of the Higher Education Act. Although it is all but certain that Congress will not complete a full-scale reauthorization before the end of the 115th Session of Congress, which ends this year, both the Aim Higher Act and the PROSPER Act serve as important markers in the future negotiations around HEA. COE continues to stay in close contact with legislators across the Congress to ensure that the interests of TRIO programs and students are forcefully represented throughout the process.