CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, July 11, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 5529, the Accessing Higher Education Opportunities Act, as amended, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 5529 was introduced on June 20, 2016, by Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV), and was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote on June 22, 2016.
H.R. 5529 would strengthen higher education for Hispanic students and families by authorizing two new uses of grants for Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). Specifically, these funds will be allowed to be used to (1) create or improve access to dual or concurrent enrollment programs and early college high school programs and (2) assist students in gaining acceptance into doctoral degree programs in the health care field by creating student support programs such as counseling, mentoring, and other services.
The Higher Education Amendments of 1992 created the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions program to expand educational opportunities for, and improve the academic attainment of, Hispanic students. An institution must have an enrollment of undergraduate full-time equivalent students that is at least 25 percent Hispanic to be considered an HSI. There are at least 400 HSIs and the average grant award in 2015 was $544,941.
Allowing HSIs to partner with their local school districts to start or expand dual enrollment or early college high school opportunities will help provide students opportunities to earn college credits earlier in their academic careers and make obtaining a postsecondary education credential more attainable.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “By leveraging grant dollars to help increase access to medical school opportunities for students at our HSIs, we will not only increase our medical workforce overall, but it will also help improve Hispanic representation in medical careers. That will lead to healthier, more prosperous communities.”
 See Rep. Heck’s Press Release, “Heck Applauds Bipartisan Committee Passage of His Higher Education Bills,” June 22, 2016.
The bill would authorize the appropriation of $108 million for fiscal year 2016. The underlying authorization for the program has expired but Congress has already appropriated $108 million for those grants in fiscal year 2016. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. Additionally, CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 5529 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.
For questions or further information please contact Molly Newell with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 2-1374.