Scott Statement on the 50th Anniversary of the Higher Education Act

November 6, 2015
Press Release

As originally released by the Committee on Education and the Workforce, Democrats

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, issued the following statement today celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Higher Education Act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on November 8, 1965:

“Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Higher Education Act (HEA) into law. HEA was a key component of the ‘Great Society’, and its goal was and is to provide a pathway to the middle class for millions of families around the country by making college affordable and accessible to everyone, not just the elite. 

“As President Johnson said as he signed HEA into law, ‘[This] means that a high school senior, anywhere in this great land of ours, can apply to any college or any university in any of the 50 states and not be turned away because his family is poor.’ 

“In this effort, the legislation created grants for low-income students and federally guaranteed loans. Through eight reauthorizations, it provided Pell grants, Campus Based Aid programs (Perkins, Federal Work Study, and the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant), TRIO, GEAR UP, and so many other programs which have helped to increase access to an affordable college education for students and families. Through investments in HBCUs, HSIs, and other MSIs, the Higher Education Act has significantly improved postsecondary opportunities for low-income, first generation, and minority students.

“The Higher Education Act was signed into law to strengthen the educational resources of our colleges and universities and to provide financial assistance for students in post-secondary and higher education. We know individuals with higher levels of education are less likely to be unemployed, receive public assistance, work in unskilled jobs with little upward mobility, and become involved in the criminal justice system. An education past the high school level – whether community college, a four year college, vocational training or a trade or apprentice program – is important not only for earnings, but also for landing a good job that can support a worker and their family.

“We must build upon the successes of the Higher Education Act and work towards a meaningful reauthorization that will allow more students to afford and achieve a quality higher education, without over-burdening them with debt after graduation. As we mark this anniversary of the Higher Education Act, I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to pass a reauthorization that will be a strong investment in education and help keep America’s workforce and economy strong for future generations.”

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