February 06, 2018

Senator Hassan Highlights Importance of Improving Higher Education Affordability During HELP Committee Hearing


Click here for footage of Senator Hassan’s questions.

WASHINGTON – During a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing today, Senator Maggie Hassan highlighted the importance of improving higher education affordability to help students obtain postsecondary credentials and degrees, particularly given workforce needs in the 21st century innovation economy.

Senator Hassan began by highlighting that constituents often raise their concerns about the affordability of higher education. In an economy where we know that 80 percent of jobs are going to require some form of postsecondary education – including credentials and training, it is even more imperative that we find a way to make sure that people can afford to access the credentials they need to succeed.

Senator Hassan pointed to the University of New Hampshire’s Granite Guarantee program, which allows first-year, Pell-grant-eligible New Hampshire students to receive free tuition for four years. Senator Hassan noted, “In an effort to make college more affordable and expand access to low income students, institutions and state university systems are implementing these kind of programs across the country. We also know that we need be thinking about how to help students beyond tuition because the entire panel has made this point: it’s not just tuition, it’s the cost of living.” Senator Hassan asked Dr. Zakiya Smith, Strategy Director for Finance and Federal Policy at the Lumina Foundation, “as we look at ways to leverage federal aid to expand access to college, how do you think states and institutions of higher education should be using an affordability goal to inform their policies and funding?”

Dr. Smith said “I think that’s fantastic. I think more states need to have an affordability goal. Right now, we talk about affordability but we don’t tell people what that means.” She added that it’s also important to have “goals complimentary around completion, so you can’t just get people in, you also have to make sure that you’re helping them through.”