On Thursday, September 26, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, introduced the Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019, S.2557. The legislation bundles together eight different bills to amend parts of the Higher Education Act (HEA), including FAFSA and financial aid award letter simplification, as well as Pell Grant expansion.
S. 2557 includes some of SchoolHouse Connection’s recommendations for removing barriers to the FAFSA for homeless and foster youth, including no longer requiring redeterminations of homeless status in subsequent years, and authorizing more entities to make determinations of homeless status.
However, the legislation does not include higher education liaisons for homeless and foster youth, nor a requirement for institutions to have a plan for helping homeless and foster youth access housing during the breaks or the academic year. Moreover, the bill is part of a larger debate over funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), as well as whether Congress should enact a comprehensive reauthorization of HEA, or a more limited piecemeal approach.
SchoolHouse Connection continues to strongly support the provisions of the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act (S.789/H.R. 1724). Please contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative and urge them to sign on as co-sponsors of this legislation, to signal strong support for its inclusion in any HEA reauthorization bill.