Statement of NSC CEO Andy Van Kleunen on Biden-Harris Administration’s Actions to Support Community College Students’ Basic Needs During Pandemic and Beyond

January 20, 2022

“Today’s announcement by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary Cardona regarding the utilization of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to reduce barriers to student success and support basic needs for students is an important investment in making college work for working people.”

“The cost of attending college goes beyond tuition. Students who have basic needs insecurity such as lack of access to adequate food, housing, and childcare, face additional barriers to postsecondary education completion that we must address to have an inclusive economic recovery.”

“Today’s announcement includes new funding and several tools that institutions can use to ensure the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund will support student success. This includes the awarding of $5 million to six community and technical colleges to develop new initiatives to support basic needs for students, as well as inviting applications for a new $198 million grant available to colleges and universities designed to support the expansion of skills training programs aligned with in-demand jobs, retention and completion efforts, initiatives to address basic needs insecurity, the cancellation of institutional-based student debt, and strategies to mitigate COVID-19.”

“This funding will provide vital support to students in navigating throughout the pandemic and beyond and help support future workers as they train for jobs created by the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Community colleges looking to use these funds would do well to look at the state of Oregon’s benefit navigator program as a model. We are actively working to secure additional investments for skills training and to support students facing basic needs insecurity through the passage of the Build Back Better Act.”