State and Federal Legislative Priorities

Federal Legislative Priorities

Beyond advocating for community colleges at the local and state level, the CCCS Public & Legislative Affairs Office works closely with Colorado’s congressional delegation and federal departments and agencies to advocate for federal legislation and funding that support students. Read about our federal policy priorities below.

Support Workforce Pell Grants for Students in Short-Term Programs

CCCS supports establishing Pell Grant eligibility for shorter-term programs, accompanied by rigorous and relevant quality standards. Currently, programs must be two-thirds of a year to be eligible for Pell Grants. This excludes many workforce-oriented programs that greatly benefit both students and local businesses. Many students cannot participate in these programs because of their cost. CCCS supports lowering the threshold for Pell Grant eligibility to 150 clock hours, as in the bipartisan JOBS Act (S. 161, H.R. 793) and Workforce Pell Act (H.R. 6585), which would increase access to these programs.

End the Taxation of Pell Grants

CCCS supports making Pell Grants tax-free. Under current law, community college students must pay taxes on any portion of their Pell Grants that helps meet living expenses. These are qualified educational expenses covered by federal student aid; reducing Pell Grant funds by taxing them makes it even harder for the lowest-income students to succeed in college.

CCCS also supports altering the $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) so that Pell Grant awards do not count against a student’s eligibility. This change would help hundreds of thousands of low-income community college students receive the $2,500 credit each year. These two overdue changes are included in the bipartisan, bicameral “Tax Free Pell Grant Act.” (S. 2920, H.R. 3000).

Support Student Access and Success

With 40% of CCCS students qualifying for Pell Grants, CCCS supports boosting the maximum award, at minimum by an inflationary adjustment, and setting the long-term goal to double the Pell Grant from the 2021-22 award year to $13,000. Pell Grants enable thousands of CCCS students to pay tuition and fees and meet other college expenses and are the foundation of all other student aid. Increasing the maximum award promotes affordability and student success while reducing the need to borrow. CCCS also supports funding increases for key financing and student support programs, such as:

• Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG)

• Federal Work-Study

• Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS)


• Postsecondary Student Success


• Basic Needs for Postsecondary Students programs

Bolster Rural Economic Development and Workforce Training

CCCS has voiced support for The Community College Agriculture Advancement Act (S. 1740, H.R. 3425), bipartisan and bicameral legislation that would fund community college workforce training, education, and research programs in agriculture. Seven of CCCS’s colleges serve rural communities, and several offer innovative programs in precision agriculture, agribusiness, and other areas that keep rural economies competitive. Through this legislation, CCCS would be able to expand these programs and ensure they meet the evolving needs of the industry. The legislation will be considered for inclusion in this year’s Farm Bill.

Establish CCCS as an Energy Innovation Center

CCCS supports draft legislation that would allow the U.S. Secretary of Energy to designate five regional Energy Innovation Centers at community colleges in Colorado and across the country. Among other activities, the bill would provide funding for expanding training programs, developing apprenticeships, forging community and industry partnerships, and supporting services that promote student success and completion.

Strengthen Under-Resourced Institutions

With six Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and two emerging HSIs within CCCS, we support increasing funding for programs serving traditionally underrepresented populations. Robust funding for these programs will help reduce equity gaps at our colleges and other institutions in Colorado. Additionally, CCCS supports investments in programs that support student needs and success, such as the Basic Needs Grant and the Postsecondary Student Success Grants.