“The most recent update to the President’s “Build Back Better” agenda includes text that completely excludes an entire group of low-income students from accessing the proposed $550 increase in the Pell Grant program simply because they chose to attend a college that is proprietary. As it currently stands, the Build Back Better bill has the intolerable consequence of restricting low income and disadvantaged students from having access to increases in Pell Grants needed to pursue higher education or complete their program.

The Pell Grant program – and the Build Back Better package - is not the appropriate place for some Democrats to pursue their personal policy objectives regarding proprietary institutions. Further, targeting proprietary institution students is a red herring for a much larger problem. Data shows that poor outcomes for low-income and minority students is endemic across all sectors of higher education. Nationally, of the 200 institutions with the lowest graduation rates for Pell Grant students, over 90% are public or non-profit institutions – only 10% are proprietary institutions. The best place to address these concerns is through long overdue changes to the institutional eligibility and accountability provisions in the Higher Education Act.

In New York, our colleges are fully accredited and regulated exactly the same as our peers in the other sectors of higher education. Congress, and in particular the New York State delegation should reject this proposal and any proposal that excludes students from need-based programs based solely on their decision to attend a proprietary college.

Moreover, there is a critical need for qualified workers, especially in healthcare, technology, and business. The Build Back Better agenda should be supporting all students and helping to alleviate the current workforce crisis and creating a pipeline for the future to help bring back our economies. APC members are aligned with industry partners and are working with them to meet local demand by providing quality graduates with the skills to enter the workforce. Excluding students attending proprietary colleges not only hurts the student but also the ability to meet workforce demand.

Many of the 26,000 students attending our member colleges come from underrepresented groups including first-generation college students as well as communities of color. Pell grants represent an essential lifeline to these students and an increase of $550 would make a significant difference in their lives. Congress, and in particular the New York State delegation should reject this proposal and any proposal that excludes students who choose to attend a proprietary college.

We look forward to working with leadership to improve the Build Back Better agenda so the neediest students in all sectors are eligible for the expanded Pell Grant.”

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