If you’re a student who receives federal financial aid, you can thank the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA). This is the 50-year anniversary of the law, which was created to strengthen the educational resources of America’s colleges and universities and to provide financial assistance to post-secondary students. The HEA was part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society domestic agenda.
The law has been amended over the years, but the basic premise of helping more students attend college hasn’t. The price of going to college has continued to increase, and if it weren’t for federal financial aid, 90 percent of our students might not be able to attend.
Our nation’s community colleges were founded on the concept of social justice and providing all Americans, particularly those economically and socially disadvantaged, an affordable and accessible education. Over the years the poor, working-class, and under-represented populations have enjoyed increased access to post-secondary education, largely through the doors of community and technical colleges.
Our charge by the Kentucky Legislature when it created KCTCS back in 1997 was to improve the quality of life and employability of Kentuckians. Since that time, our open access system of 16 colleges with more than 70 locations has provided the opportunity for people to get a good education while staying close to home. The HEA has played a large role in that by helping us positively affect the lives of thousands of Kentuckians. That’s something to celebrate!