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Kaine & Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Make Higher Education More Affordable by Expanding Access to Dual Enrollment & Early College Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), John Boozman (R-AR), and Mike Braun (R-IN) in reintroducing bipartisan legislation to make higher education more accessible and affordable by expanding opportunities for high school students to obtain college credit. The Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act (MEAA) would expand the use of existing federal grants available for higher education institutions to support dual or concurrent enrollment initiatives and early college high school programs.

“The skyrocketing costs of higher education have put opportunities out of reach for too many students and hurt our economy. I’m committed to lowering those costs so Virginia students can achieve their goals without being saddled with debt,” said Kaine. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan legislation to help make higher education more affordable by increasing access to dual enrollment and early college programs to allow more high school students to earn college credit.”

The Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act (MEAA) would allow federal funding from the Higher Education Act Title VII Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) to be used by institutions of higher education to:

  • Carry out dual or concurrent enrollment programs as well as early college high school programming;
  • Provide educators in these programs with professional development;
  • Assist students in the program in covering education-related costs such as tuition and fees, books, and transportation; and
  • Support activities such as course design, course approval processes, community outreach, student counseling and support services.

Concurrent enrollment provides high school students the opportunity to take college-credit bearing courses taught by college-approved high school teachers, while dual enrollment allows students to enroll and take classes at two separate institutions. Early college high schools are located on college campuses or within schools, respectively, and allow students to begin working toward an associate’s degree while they complete the necessary coursework for a high school diploma. This model often includes a 13th year to allow students to complete their associate’s degree.

The MEAA is supported by a broad group of education organizations and institutions.

“Under today’s student debt crisis, too many individuals are being hampered by the financial burdens of their postsecondary education,” said Marc Egan, National Education Association (NEA) Government Relations Director.  “Expanding greater access to high quality dual enrollment courses would not only provide an accelerated opportunity for students to receive a postsecondary degree, but also reduce their student debt. NEA is proud to once again support Senator Peters on this important legislation.”

“School leaders support the Make Education Affordable and Accessible Act because it gives our students a pathway to and through college,” said Ronn Nozoe, CEO of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. “And as higher education costs far outpace teacher pay, this legislation will help hopeful educators afford the certification they need to enter the classroom.”

“Expanding dual enrollment and early college high schools is a critical step towards accelerating postsecondary attainment rates and economic mobility by blurring the lines between high school, college, and careers,” said Maria Flynn, President and CEO, Jobs for the Future. “The Making Education Accessible and Affordable Act would support the expansion of college in high school programs, particularly for low-income students, as well as Black, Native American, and Latinx students.”

“Dual and concurrent enrollment programs are a key part of the connections between our secondary education, postsecondary education and workforce systems,” said Association for Career and Technical Education Executive Director LeAnn Curry. “By expanding grants to support these programs and professional development for educators, the MEAA will strengthen the talent pipeline for the 21st century American workforce. Through dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities, students can earn and make progress towards industry-recognized credentials that demonstrate the foundational skills students have obtained through CTE programs. As we confront emerging workforce challenges, we must be nimble in connecting students with career opportunities through dual and concurrent enrollment programs. We commend this bipartisan legislation and its sponsors for their leadership.”

“Time and cost are the most significant barriers to student success. The Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act cuts the cost of college, reduces the time to a degree and helps prepare students for career and life success regardless of family income,” said Lillian Pace, KnowledgeWorks Vice President of Policy and Advocacy. “Earning post-secondary credits in high school is a proven, high-impact approach to preparing students to succeed in a rapidly changing economy. This Act is an important step to getting education barriers removed.”

Full text of the bill is available here.