Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Bonamici-Sponsored Bill to Make Higher Education More Affordable Advances to House Floor

October 31, 2019
Press Release

Bonamici-Sponsored Bill to Make Higher Education More Affordable Advances to House Floor


WASHINGTON, DC [10/31/19] – Today the Education and Labor Committee approved legislation sponsored by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) to make higher education more affordable and accessible.


Bonamici, who is Chair of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, played a key role in leading the College Affordability Act. The comprehensive update of the Higher Education Act includes many of the policies from legislation Bonamici previously introduced.


Video of Bonamici’s remarks at the committee vote in support of the legislation can be found here.


“Today is an important day in the Education and Labor Committee,” Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said at the markup. “Congress does have an important role – a role based in equity – to make sure that every student can get the best education possible to prepare them for success in whatever path they take in life. This important responsibility requires that we promote equity, safeguard and expand educational opportunities, and improve outcomes for all students.”


The committee included the Opportunity to Address College Hunger Act, which Bonamici co-led with Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA), as an amendment to the College Affordability Act during the committee process. It will address college hunger by making sure students who are eligible for SNAP benefits have the information and supports they need to secure their benefits.


Bonamici’s contributions to the College Affordability Act also include the following:


  • Updating the Federal Work Study (FWS) program to better meet the needs of students
    • Invests in low-income students by increasing funding for FWS and revising the distribution formula to allocate funds based on student need and Pell Grant aid
    • Rewards institutions that enroll and graduate high numbers of Pell Grant students
    • Allows students to earn FWS wages during periods of non-enrollment and requires institutions to use some FWS funds for work-based learning opportunities
    • Allows students to earn FWS wages while participating in their institution’s educator preparation residency program, an evidence-based model to address teacher shortages and diversify the educator workforce


  • Improving the student loan system
    • Helps student loan borrowers automatically enroll in affordable repayment plans
    • Automates the annual process of updating borrowers’ income information while enrolled in income-driven repayment plans
    • Removes burdensome paperwork requirements for borrowers who are totally and permanently disabled


  • Supporting students with disabilities
    • Streamlines the process for college students with disabilities to access needed support services
    • Saves families hundreds or even thousands of dollars by allowing them to use existing documentation of a disability when seeking accommodations on campus


  • Strengthening financial counseling for student borrowers
    • Improves the timing, frequency, and content of the financial counseling students are required to receive when they take out federal student loans


These provisions are from Bonamici’s Opportunities for Success Act, SIMPLE Act, RISE Act, and Empowering Students through Financial Counseling Act.


The committee also adopted an amendment from Bonamici that would require institutions to disclose their background check policies for employees and volunteers of university-sponsored programs that involve athletes, children, and youth.


Bonamici has also been a staunch advocate for many other provisions in the College Affordability Act, including increasing Pell grant funding, improving and expanding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, supporting school-based child care centers, providing for stronger accountability measures for institutions, and creating an emergency grant program for students who encounter unexpected financial barriers.


More details about the College Affordability Act can be found here.