AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions

SUPPORTING INCREASED FEDERAL INVESTMENT IN COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY INSTRUCTION

WHEREAS, the first year that the Pell Grant program was fully funded, the maximum Pell Grant covered 72 percent of the cost of attendance at a typical four-year public college, but by 2007 the maximum Pell Grant covered only 32 percent of the cost of attendance; and

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers has been a steadfast advocate for restoring the purchasing power of the Pell Grant, for ensuring that Pell Grants are provided to all students who meet the eligibility criteria and for reversing the growing problem of excessive student loan debt; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Congress since 2007, and the Obama administration since 2009, have taken a number of historic steps to expand access to college, including:

  • Increasing the maximum Pell Grant;
  • Taking the first steps toward making Pell Grants an entitlement program;
  • Eliminating the Federal Family Education Loan Program in favor of direct federal loans to college students, thereby saving billions of dollars in excessive subsidies to private lenders; and
  • Establishing income-based repayment options for student loans and loan forgiveness for students entering public service; and

WHEREAS, President Obama proposed and Congress enacted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which directed billions of dollars to the states to soften the impact of the 2008-09 recession on public service employment, including college and university employment; and

WHEREAS, President Obama has proposed an unprecedented and far-reaching program to increase college attainment in the United States, with a particular emphasis on strengthening the nation's community colleges; and

WHEREAS, despite these advances:
 

  • Colleges and universities, particularly community colleges, still badly lack the resources they need to maintain capacity in the face of unprecedented enrollments driven by a recession economy; and
  • Colleges and universities are still furloughing or laying off employees, significantly increasing class size and workload and relying more heavily on underpaid contingent faculty lacking job security and professional supports; and
  • Increasing numbers of faculty are graduating with significant student-loan debt that is particularly unmanageable for contingent faculty given their debt-to-wage ratio:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers commend the Obama administration and the U.S. Congress for enacting legislation that significantly increased investment in the Pell Grant program and reformed the student loan program to benefit students rather than lenders; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT continue to press the administration and Congress to significantly increase Pell Grant awards and bring greater reliability and stability to Pell Grants by making the program a true entitlement; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT press for legislation that will include state funding maintenance of effort language that will accompany any Pell Grant increases; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT press for the enactment of federal programs that would provide direct assistance to institutions to serve students effectively, both at community colleges and higher education as a whole; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT work to ensure the broadest interpretation possible of the current law on student loan forgiveness to cover faculty, including part-time faculty who are relying on teaching as their primary occupation; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT advocate and foster cooperative efforts at all levels of government, and among foundations, unions and other stakeholders to establish a secure funding base for public higher education going forward, one built on affordability and quality, particularly stronger support for instruction and academic staffing.


(2010)