Higher Education

Higher Education: Stepping Stone to the Middle Class

Senator Casey believes that higher education is the ticket to the American dream and a key to long-term economic growth. Anyone with the drive, fortitude, and desire to pursue the opportunities afforded by higher education should be able to realize that dream, regardless of their personal financial situation. Pennsylvania is fortunate to have the most institutions of higher education of any state, as well as the rich diversity and economic advantages that come with them. Senator Casey will do everything he can to ensure that college is accessible and affordable for all students and that Pennsylvania continues to benefit from these institutions.

Career and Technical Education

  • Senator Casey helped lead a bipartisan effort in the Senate to renew the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which provides millions of students nationwide with the training and education necessary for success in high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand career fields like engineering, information technology, and health care. On June 26, 2018, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee unanimously passed a version of a Perkins CTE Reauthorization formulated by Senators Casey and Enzi. This text was signed into law on July 31, 2018. The new law increases authorization levels and provides important updates to the law including creating more alignment with other federal laws as well as local economic need; encouraging collaboration between educators, industry, workforce development boards and community partners; fostering innovation; and improving access for special populations, including students with disabilities.

Access and Affordability

  • Senator Casey is an original cosponsor of Senator Warren's Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. This legislation would help student borrowers manage their debt by allowing them to refinance their student loan debt at the same low interest rates offered to new borrowers in the federal student loan program. With student loan debt reaching over $1.4 trillion, it is critical that we work not only to reduce the cost of college, but give those students who have already taken out loans a fair shot at repaying them.

  • Senator Casey has been a powerful voice in the fight to protect funding for programs that make higher education more affordable and accessible for all students, including the Pell Grant, Trio, campus-based aid, and the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program.

  • Students with disabilities are graduating from high school and enrolling in college at an all-time high. Preparing every student for college and a career is critically important to supporting a strong economy and prosperous nation. Yet, students with disabilities often face barriers in college that prevent them from truly excelling. That is why Senator Casey is the lead sponsor of the bipartisan Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower Act of 2017 (RISE Act). This legislation would help to ease the transition for students with disabilities from high school to college by clarifying the documentation an institution of higher education must accept as proof of a student’s disability. It also makes school policies and data more transparent for students and families so they can make informed decisions. Finally, it provides additional support for technical assistance to colleges and universities to better serve individuals with disabilities.

  • Senator Casey has worked to ease the financial burden on the families of first responders who fall in the line of duty. Legislation he sponsored, the Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act, was signed into law on March 23, 2018, will ease the cost of higher education by making the children of fallen first responders who pursue a college education eligible for the maximum Pell Grant.

  • Senator Casey sponsors the Correctly Recognizing Educational Achievements to Empower (CREATE) Graduates Act. This legislation will help young people to receive the degrees that they have already earned by creating incentives for states to establish “reverse transfer” programs, or initiatives to transfer back credits from a four-year university to the two-year program where a student without a degree was initially enrolled. It also contains a provision that would make it easier for institutions of higher education to share student records for the purposes of helping them reverse transfer.

  • Senator Casey is the sponsor of the Stopping Unfair Collateral Consequences from Ending Student Success Act (SUCCESS Act). The SUCCESS Act would repeal the section of the Higher Education Act that strips federal financial aid from college students convicted of a drug offense and also removes the question from the federal financial aid form. Students convicted of drug offenses remain subject to criminal penalties for their offenses, but removing the aid disqualification ensures they are not punished twice and can still access federal aid to pay for college and become productive members of society.

  • Senator Casey supported a provision in the PATH Act to make college more affordable for working families by permanently extending and enhancing the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides up to a $2,500 tax credit to offset the cost of college.

  • Senator Casey led the charge to reauthorize the Perkins Loan program, which expired on September 30, 2015. The Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act was officially signed into law on Friday, December 18, 2015, extending the program for another two years. Perkins loans allow institutions to fill gaps in student aid with low-interest loans, thereby helping students throughout the Commonwealth and the Nation access higher education.

  • Senator Casey is the lead sponsor of the Higher Education Mental Health Act, which would create a commission to make recommendations to universities, states, and the federal government to better support students with mental health disabilities and concerns.

  • Senator Casey has worked to support students and veterans that have been defrauded by for-profit colleges. He has worked with the Department of Education on loan forgiveness programs and the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure institutions are held accountable.

  • Senator Casey is the sponsor of the Expanding Disability Access to Higher Education Act, legislation to expand the participation of students with disabilities in the TRIO and GEAR UP programs. This bill would increase funding for TRIO grantees by 15 percent if they agreed to enroll 15 percent additional participants with disabilities. In Pennsylvania alone, this could result in 2,000 additional students with disabilities accessing higher education.

Campus Safety

  • Senator Casey authored the Safe Equitable Campus Resources and Education (SECuRE) Act, to hold colleges and universities accountable for ensuring that the needs of individuals with disabilities are included in planning and prevention efforts with respect to campus sexual assault, and provided accommodations as needed when they are the victim of a sexual assault or when they are involved in a campus conduct proceeding following a sexual assault. This bill follows a landmark report from the National Council on Disability, highlighting the ways in which the needs of individuals with disabilities are being overlooked when addressing campus sexual assault.

  • Senator Casey is the author of the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (Campus SaVE) Act, which seeks to address sexual violence on college campuses by improving campus judicial proceedings and requiring colleges and universities to provide clear, concise information to victims about their rights and the resources available to them. It was included as Sec. 304 of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, which was signed into law on March 7, 2013. The law went into full effect on July 1, 2015.


  • Casey To Every Single PA College: What Are You Doing To Address Campus Sexual Assault?

    In an effort to ensure that students across Pennsylvania have a safe learning environment, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), primary author of the Campus SaVE Act, which was enacted as a part of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, is pressing 123 colleges and universities in the Commonwealth to ensure that they have adequate policies in place to prevent campus sexual assault. Specifically, Casey is requesting information about institutions' efforts to fight this epidemic. Read More

  • Casey, Cassidy, Hassan, Young Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Remove Unnecessary Barriers for Students with Disabilities

    U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced the Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) Act to help ease the burden of transitioning to college for students with disabilities. The legislation would amend the Higher Education Act (HEA) and clarify that students with previous documentation of a disability would be able to continue using that documentation as proof when they transition to higher education. This would help ensure students who receive special education or accommodations because of a disability do not need to spend time and money to go through unnecessary new diagnostic testing. Read More

  • Casey, Dingell, Hassan Continue Fight Against Campus Sexual Assault

    Although great strides have been made in advancing protections against sexual violence on college campuses, students with disabilities still suffer a disproportionate number of violent sexual crimes. A recent Last year, a report from the National Council on Disability, "Not on the Radar: Sexual Assault of College Students with Disabilities," found that the needs of these students are often not addressed under existing policies. To address this gap and build upon the work of the landmark Jeanne Clery Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12) and U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced the Safe Equitable Campus Resources and Education (SECuRE) Act. Read More

  • On The First Day Of Black History Month, Casey Announces Annual Honorees

    Today, as we celebrate the start of Black History Month, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that he will honor five Pennsylvania innovators for their dedication to creating innovative solutions to the Nation's most pressing issues and for their work in inspiring the next generation of leaders. These innovators include: Lorina Marshall-Blake, Joan Myers Brown, Sulaiman Rahman, Rakia Reynolds and Omar Woodward. Read More

  • Casey’s Bipartisan Children’s Hospital Legislation Headed to President’s Desk to Become Law

    U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), alongside U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), announced that both the Senate and House have passed bipartisan legislation they worked on to ensure that children's hospitals have the support they need to provide adequate medical education for training of pediatricians and other residents. The legislation, which passed the Senate yesterday, now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law. Read More

  • Casey’s Bipartisan Career & Technical Education Bill Signed Into Law

    U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), the primary Democratic author of bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act, applauded the passage of his legislation into law. The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act will help students and workers get the skills they need to find high-skill, high-wage or in-demand jobs in the future. Read More

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