Last week, I joined 33 AACRAO advocates to meet with nearly 60 Congressional offices and discuss a number of issues affecting members, their institutions, and their students. I would like to personally thank the members who gave us their time to advocate on behalf of AACRAO and the profession at our first ever virtual Hill Day experience. Member participation is a key component of our advocacy efforts, since legislators want to hear directly from our members who reside in their districts and states.
In coordination with the virtual Hill Day meetings, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) reintroduced legislation to rescind some of the 2012 regulatory amendments to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a legislative priority for AACRAO over the past several years. The 2012 regulations dramatically expanded circumstances in which student education records can be disclosed under FERPA and broadened the definition of who can be given access to personally identifiable information (PII) from those records on a non-consensual basis. The Protecting Education Privacy Act, H.R. 5339, would repeal the amended definitions of "authorized representative" and "education program" to help ensure that disclosure of students' private information to third parties will be limited to only those parties who are under the direct control of the educational entity disclosing the students' records. AACRAO advocates encouraged other Congressional offices to protect student privacy and support this legislation.
Hill Day attendees also urged lawmakers to support the bipartisan, bicameral Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act, S. 2379, H.R. 4533, to assist institutions in identifying students who have earned enough credits to be awarded an associate's degree through reverse transfer. The legislation would establish a new exemption under the FERPA to allow the sharing of student information between institutions to facilitate increased college completion rates. It includes language that increases the flexibility to complete an assessment of student records while still adhering to FERPA standards.
Additionally, advocates asked congressional offices to raise the maximum Pell Grant to $13,000 as part of the #DoublePell initiative. Pell Grants help nearly seven million low- and moderate-income students attend and complete college annually, but the purchasing power of the grant, which currently cannot exceed $6,495 per individual student, is at an all-time low. The maximum grant covered more than three-quarters of the cost of attending a four-year public college nearly 50 years ago, but now covers just one-third. Recent legislative proposals would increase the maximum Pell Grant by a total of $1,875. While that represents an improvement, it does not go nearly far enough.
Learn more about how you can help to promote the #DoublePell campaign and visit AACRAO's Advocacy Center to learn about other issues we support and lend your voice.