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Policy Statement 560 - Federal Support for Higher Education

 

Approved by the Committee on Education on December 18, 2018
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on February 19, 2019
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 13, 2019

Policy

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports robust federal support for higher education, including reauthorization of the federal Higher Education Act that: 

  • Clearly and unambiguously improves student financial aid;
  • Continues to promote access to postsecondary education and encourages completion of degrees;
  • Clearly defines terms, conditions, and loan limits for federal student loans; and,
  • Requires institutions to define their mission and the nature of their academic programs.

ASCE supports programs and initiatives that seek to improve academic quality and student success. ASCE further supports efforts to reduce fraud, abuse, and redundancy where they exist. 

Issue

Federal funding in support of engineering education is crucial to maintaining sufficient engineering expertise to support national needs and goals. The United States' economic competitiveness relies, in part, on having qualified engineers to design, build, and maintain the nation's infrastructure; conduct research; and develop new products and technologies. Leadership and funding at the federal level is essential to maintaining a high quality educational system.

The federal government supports engineering education through its policies and the funding of federal agencies, scholarships, fellowships, and grants. Yet data indicate that student access to a high-quality university education is at risk, in part because tuition costs have increased for both private and public higher education institutions and federal and state support have declined. Reductions in federal support for higher education have a disproportionate impact on students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, which negatively affects access, diversity, and inclusion.  These developments are putting the education needed to thrive in a knowledge-intensive global economy out of reach for many citizens. Without adequate public funding for engineering education, the United States risks a loss in global competitiveness.

Rationale

The United States' economic competitiveness relies, in part, on qualified engineers to design, build, and maintain the nation's infrastructure; conduct research; and develop new products and technologies. Engineers help meet national needs and goals by ensuring that the public health, safety, welfare, and protection of the environment are addressed and achieved. The education of an engineer is a lifelong process that begins in the K-12 educational system followed by undergraduate and graduate degrees and continuing formal and informal education. 

Inadequate federal funding for education results in greater demands on educational institutions, employers of engineers, students, and their families. This funding shortfall can result in decreased services and programs, a shifting of costs to students, families, and employers of engineers, and can reduce retention of students in engineering programs.

ASCE Policy Statement 560
First Approved 2019


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