Business Roundtable Letter Sets Priorities for Higher Education Act Renewal | Business Roundtable

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Business Roundtable (BRT) is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote sound public policy and a thriving U.S. economy.

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The Honorable Virginia Foxx
Chair, Committee on Education and the Workforce
U.S. House of Representatives
2262 Rayburn House Office Building 
Washington, DC  20515
 
Dear Chairwoman Foxx:
 
On behalf of Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies, I am writing to express our views on the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, which the Education and the Workforce Committee recently passed to reauthorize and reform the Higher Education Act (HEA). 
 
CEOs strongly support public policies that undergird education, like HEA. We have put together priorities for reauthorization of this bill that are focused on six main areas: simplifying programs, employer partnerships, innovation, data, accountability and affordability. These priorities are spelled out in more detail on our web page at businessroundtable.org.  
 
Federal higher education policies should be focused on the broader need to ensure students have the opportunity to obtain the skills necessary to be successful in the workforce. We are pleased that the PROSPER Act shifts policy to focus on the skills the American workforce needs, reduces federal regulations and paperwork and aligns closely with our priorities. Specifically, we support provisions that would:
 
  • simplify the FAFSA financial aid process, making it easier for students to access and navigate the system; 
  • promote employer partnerships, including enabling students who participate in work-study to do so in private sector companies, allowing them to obtain real-world experience;
  • encourage innovation, chiefly by allowing institutions to more easily establish competency-based programs that measure mastery of skills instead of time spent sitting in a classroom, and allowing for short-term “workforce” Pell grants;
  • increase the focus on outcomes as part of accreditation reviews; and
  • incentivize students to graduate on time through a new Pell Grant bonus, improving graduation rates and making college more affordable.
 
We will continue to work with Members of both sides of the aisle to make improvements as this bill moves through the legislative process. In particular, our focus will be on ensuring federal student aid is adequate and targeted and that further insight is provided by improving data to reflect outcomes, including graduation and retention rates as well as earnings data of all students at an institution, not just those receiving federal student aid. 
 
We strongly encourage Members from both sides of the aisle to work together as this legislation moves forward; at the end of the day, that is the only way to get an HEA reauthorization signed into law. We believe there are many areas where consensus may be reached between the two parties, particularly around the broader focus of HEA as a critical investment toward ensuring all Americans have the skills to succeed and prosper in our economy. CEOs are certainly on board. The PROSPER ACT is a step in the right direction to make this a reality.
 
Sincerely,
 
Wes Bush 
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President
Northrop Grumman Corporation
Chair, Education and Workforce Committee
Business Roundtable