March 17, 2022

Neguse, Stansbury Introduce Legislation to Help Students Complete College

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representatives Joe Neguse (Colo.-02) and Melanie Stansbury (N.M.-01), along with Rep. André Carson (Ind.-07), announced they will introduce the College Completion Fund Act to promote college completion and address longstanding inequities in college access and success by funding comprehensive programs to support students in their educational needs.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, just under 60% of students starting college graduate with a degree over six years. Students of color, low-income students, and student veterans are disproportionately at risk of not completing college or do not obtain a degree for various reasons.

“The chance to complete a college degree must be an opportunity provided to all students, no matter their background or socio-economic status,” said Rep. Neguse. “As a former Regent at CU Boulder, during my time on campus I saw firsthand the many life circumstances or unexpected barriers that may keep students from completing a degree. The College Completion Act, which I am introducing today alongside Congresswoman Stansbury, will fund comprehensive student support programs, including child care, mental health services, food and housing assistance and career training to keep students on track with their education and ensure everyone has an opportunity to succeed, regardless of what challenges they face over their time in college. This legislation builds on initiatives our office has been leading for several years to lower the cost of college, invest in non-traditional education pathways and ensure every student is offered a fair shot.”

“As someone who grew up in a working family, and whose life was transformed by education, I know firsthand the ways in which education can impact a person’s path and the struggles many students in New Mexico face in finishing college, which is why I am proud to introduce the College Completion Act with Rep. Joe Neguse,” said Rep. Stansbury. “This legislation builds on our state’s leadership in passing recent legislation to make college free for all New Mexicans and will provide crucial support to invest in our future leaders by ensuring our students can not only attend college, but thrive and succeed for generations to come.”

Companion legislation, led by U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (N.M.)was introduced in the Senate in September 2021. 

The College Completion Fund Act would authorize $62 billion to be distributed by the U.S. Department of Education over the next 10 years to invest in evidence-based strategies to help college students stay engaged in their education programs and complete degrees. Funds will be allocated to states based on a formula using Census tract poverty data to ensure funding reaches under-resourced schools with students most in need of support. 

In order to receive these funds, states will need to develop strategic plans to increase graduation and completion rates for all students enrolled in public colleges and universities. These plans will focus on strategies to support students from low-income backgrounds and historically underrepresented communities, first-generation college enrollees, parenting students, students with disabilities, and student veterans.

The College Completion Fund Act would support college and university-driven initiatives, including:

  • Comprehensive academic support services such as faculty and peer counseling and career coaching
  • Data and incentives to keep students on track in their education
  • Direct student support such as childcare, transportation, emergency financial assistance, food and housing assistance, career coaching, mental health services, and work-based learning opportunities
  • Reforms to developmental education, including utilizing career pathways and improving transfer student success 

The full text of the legislation is available here.

“The University of New Mexico is eager to support forward-thinking federal policy initiatives that will help college students fulfill their dreams of earning a valuable higher education degree.  We recognize that college completion and degree attainment are very important to promoting upward mobility for New Mexico’s underserved populations, many of whom are first-generation college seekers.  This proposed legislation appropriately focuses on some critical factors that would otherwise imperil college success and degree attainment,” said Garnett S. Stokes, UNM President. 

“We thank Representatives Stansbury and Neguse for their steadfast leadership in introducing the College Completion Fund Act. This critical legislation would advance federal higher education policy to focus not only on increasing college access and affordability, but also ensuring more students complete college with a degree in hand. Public universities are squarely focused on increasing college access, affordability, and completion and this bill would bolster their efforts and scale promising strategies. We call on Congress pass this critical legislation to better serve students and enhance the competitiveness of our nation’s workforce,” said Peter McPherson, President of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.