Higher Education

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APA advocates for expanding opportunities for doctoral study in psychology, and for the application of psychological research to improve student outcomes in higher education.

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Recent APA Advocacy Related to Higher Education

APA’s priorities in higher education are to expand avenues for doctoral study in psychology and integrate relevant psychological research findings meant to improve opportunities and outcomes for students. 

We work in coalition with other organizations to boost federal investments in programs that support students seeking advanced degrees. And we lend our voice to advocacy activities designed to advance quality in the field by informing leaders about specialized accreditation. Over the years, APA has partnered with the Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions, the American Council on Education and over 35 other organizations to advocate for higher education. 

July 2018

APA Denounces Administration Plan to Roll Back Policies That Factor Race in College Admissions

APA released a statement in response to the administration’s announcement that it will rescind current guidelines supporting affirmative action in college admissions.

APA stated that there is compelling scientific evidence supporting the overarching principle that institutions of higher education should be encouraged to employ race-conscious admissions practices to promote the many educational benefits for all students associated with campus diversity.
December 2017

APA Provides Feedback on the PROSPER Act (H.R. 4508)

On Tuesday, Dec. 12, the House Education and the Workforce Committee passed the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform Act (HR 4508) by a vote of 23-17. This legislation includes significant changes to the Higher Education Act, some of which could have a negative impact on access to and affordability of graduate study. APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr. PhD sent a letter (PDF, 51KB) on behalf of the American Psychological Association to the committee leadership. It provides comments on topics including federal support for graduate study, teacher education, and campus climate and campus sexual assault prevention.

May 2017

APA Joins ACE in Letter to Secretary DeVos About the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

APA joined the American Council on Education and 35 other higher education associations on a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (PDF, 267KB) on May 2, 2017. The letter expresses concern with recent reports that some borrowers’ employment was no longer eligible for forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), despite providing the department with the required information and receiving confirmation from the department of their eligibility.

The letter urges the department to uphold the initial determinations for PSLF borrowers and consider how to better engage with borrowers, particularly those eligible for PSLF.

May 2017

APA Supports Introduction of the POST GRAD Act

APA sent a letter (PDF, 46KB) to U.S. Representative Judy Chu, D-Calif., to offer support for HR 2526, the "Protecting Our Students by Terminating Graduate Rates that Add to Debt Act" (POST GRAD Act).

APA supports Representative Chu as she reintroduces this legislation and fights to keep graduate study within reach for qualified, motivated students with demonstrated financial need.

March 2017

Subcommittee Letter on Graduate Aid

On March 21, the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development held a hearing on federal student financial aid. The hearing covered a number of topics including simplification, affordability, accessibility and quality of federal aid. In an effort to highlight/reinforce the importance of federal support for graduate study, the APA Education Government Relations Office wrote a letter (PDF, 153KB) to the chairman and ranking member of the subcommittee. The letter includes a list of principles APA would like to be considered in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Many members of the Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions joined in signing the letter.

February 2017

Outreach to New Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

Following the recent confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the new Secretary of Education, APA sent a letter to her outlining APA’s education priorities (PDF, 195KB). It highlighted the breadth of APA’s education policy interests across a range of programs authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individual with Disabilities Education Act, the Higher Education Act, as well as the critical role of the Office of Civil Rights and the psychological research supported by the Institute of Education Sciences.

October 2015

APA Members Ask Congress to Restore Subsidized Student Loan Program

Nearly 100 APA members visited their members of Congress and asked them to support the federal investment in graduate study by restoring eligibility for the federal direct subsidized loan program to graduate students.

April 2015

APA Responds to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

In April 2015, APA's Education Government Relations Office submitted comments in response to a request (PDF, 54KB) from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the HELP committee, released three staff white papers and sought feedback from the higher education community. The three issues addressed relate to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act:

April 2013

APA Thanks HELP Committee for Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act of 2013

APA sent an April 13, 2013, letter (PDF, 47KB) to the chairman and ranking member of the HELP Committee expressing its strong support for S.689, the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act of 2013. The legislation provided for enhanced opportunities for positive behavioral interventions and supports, early intervening services and school-based mental health services. The letter also expressed thanks for the inclusion of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act reauthorization and applauded the changes that provided greater clarity and flexibility to college counseling centers, enabling them to best meet the needs of the students on their campuses.


APA Develops Recommendations for HEA Reauthorization

The House Education and the Workforce Committee advanced a number of smaller bipartisan proposals reauthorizing parts of the HEA. These bills were taken up by the full U.S. House of Representatives and passed with bipartisan support: Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2014 (H.R. 3136); Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (H.R. 4983); and Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act (H.R. 4984). However, significant parts of HEA were left unaddressed by the House. It was more challenging to gain bipartisan support in the House for the “big” issues not included in the few bills that passed, including college cost and accountability, student financial assistance, and teacher quality — to name just a few. 

APA developed a set of recommendations to HEA to advance opportunities for graduate study in psychology and to integrate psychological research findings where relevant into the law. Staff has met with key congressional offices and administration representatives, and the APA Education Government Relations Office has worked with APAGS other national organizations to raise congressional awareness and keep doctoral study in psychology affordable.

May 2013

APA Comments to the Senate HELP Committee on Graduate Student Loan Affordability

APA wrote a letter (PDF, 77KB) to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, urging Congress to extend access to subsidized loans to all students with financial need. Comments were also sent (PDF, 75.39KB) to the House Education and the Workforce Committee on graduate student loan affordability to support low interest rates for federal student loan programs, extending access to subsidized loans to all students with demonstrated financial need.

Federal support of graduate education is an important investment in our nation’s future
—Jennifer Smulson, 2017 APA Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer

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Jenny Smulson
Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer, APA Education Government Relations Office


About APA Advocacy

APA represents the largest and most visible national presence advocating for psychology at the federal level. There are three APA government relations offices and two APA-affiliated organizations that engage in government relations activities. 

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