US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Harkin Statement on the President’s Higher Education Speech

Thursday, August 22, 2013

‘The decision about where to attend college is one of the biggest choices students and their families face...I agree with President Obama that we must provide greater transparency to help them through the process'

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement after President Barack Obama delivered a speech on higher education. Harkin serves as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which will begin the process of reauthorizing the Higher Education Act this fall. Harkin is also Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

“Higher education is a critical step for young people today. While we have made significant progress in recent years to boost college access and affordability, much more needs to be done. I have long supported greater transparency for colleges—including better data on student outcomes—so I applaud the President’s proposal for the Department of Education to develop a new college ratings system that will help students and their families make informed decisions about where to attend while also encouraging our colleges to improve.

“I appreciate the President’s focus on quality completion and I agree with him that we must do more to promote tested innovations that improve outcomes for all students. The upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act will be an opportunity to focus on runaway college costs and promote a system of shared responsibility among all stakeholders: the federal government, states, institutions, and students and families. I look forward to learning more about the President’s proposals—and to working with senators on both sides of the aisle—as the Senate HELP Committee begins the process of reauthorizing the HEA this fall.”

In 2012 and 2013, Chairman Harkin held four hearings to inform the Committee’s work in improving college access and success for all students. The hearings examined institutional and state innovations in improving college affordability, as well as the student perspective on the financial challenges associated with accessing and completing a higher education. Chairman Harkin also included $250 million in the FY14 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill for Race to the Top: College Affordability and Completion. This funding will incentivize states to reduce costs for students and families and improve academic outcomes.

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