District of Columbia High School Graduates
Gain More Tuition Benefits
District of Columbia high school graduates stand to gain more college tuition benefits under legislation that the U.S. House of Representatives approved just before its August recess.
The House overwhelmingly approved a bill from Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., to expand the two-year-old D.C. College Access Act, which allows the District’s high school graduates to pay in-state tuition rates at any public college or university in the nation. Under the new bill, more students would be eligible for benefits, including those who may have a long gap between the time they finish high school and the year they start college.
Norton says the new bill would mean “a handsome rebate on last year’s college tuition for some and an unexpected opportunity to go to college for others.”
Under the new bill, students in the class of 2001 will gain eligibility, putting them in line for a reimbursement of some of their tuition. Most of these students currently are not eligible for aid, since the law offered eligibility only to students who graduated on or after Jan. 1, 1998.
Congress did not help the class of 2001 because it was unsure how far the federal government’s limited investment in D.C. tuition aid would go, Norton says. But D.C. has demonstrated that funds are “sufficient” to cover not only those graduating after 1998 but also current college seniors who may have graduated from high school in prior years.
The House bill takes another extra step by offering eligibility to any past D.C. high school graduate. Currently, the program is open only to those individuals who enroll in college within three years of their graduation from high school.
This change, Norton says, will help students who need to work after high school but still have a goal to attend college at some point in the future. “Older students who did not qualify are eager to take advantage of the program in time for the next college year in September.”
Under current law, D.C. graduates who opt not to attend public colleges and universities could get a $2,500 stipend to attend a private college in the D.C. metropolitan area.
Republicans also endorsed the legislation. The bill “gives D.C. graduates more choices and provides an incentive for more families to remain in the nation’s capital,” says Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va.
The bill, called the D.C. College Access Technical Corrections Act, also would close a loophole that allows foreign nationals living in the nation’s capital to receive tuition benefits, an unintended result of the original legislation. Under the new bill, students need to meet citizenship and immigration requirements to qualify for aid.
The bill still requires U.S. Senate action, which is not likely before fall.
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com