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ACT Announces Commitment to Helping Achieve Presidential Education Priorities

IOWA CITY, IA—As President Obama outlines ambitious education policies in his State of the Union speech tonight, ACT announces its commitment to ensuring that the proposed programs and legislative efforts meet their intended goals of improving opportunities and access for a larger group of American students and workers.

“We know from our research and work with legislators at the federal and state levels that it’s crucial for programs, funding and standards to be aligned across the education and workforce continuums,” said Scott Montgomery, ACT vice president for policy, advocacy and government relations. “With that in mind, our focus will continue to be on working to ensure opportunities are available to address the priorities we believe are most urgent to meeting the challenges laid out by the president.”

Student Data Privacy Protection

President Obama emphasized the importance of protecting “our children’s information,” a concern ACT takes seriously as an organization that has been responsibly collecting and protecting student data for more than 50 years.

“ACT collects data and information, including personally identifiable information provided by students, and it’s crucial to ensure that this information is used solely for educational and research purposes,” said Montgomery. “As a mission-based nonprofit, we adhere to the highest standards and safeguards to ensure that student information is protected and only used in ways that provide clear benefits to students and their families for educational advancement and improvement.”

Free Community College Tuition

As the President noted this evening, two out of every three jobs in the United States now require some level of post-secondary training. ACT’s research suggests that, soon, almost every job will require some level of post-secondary training. ACT applauds the President’s acknowledgement of the vital role community colleges play in this system.

At a time when state-based funding for higher education has been steadily declining while tuition at public colleges and universities has been on the rise, the President’s plan takes an important step in bridging the access gap for many low-income students. Too often, however, the students most in need of this type of financial support are the least likely to know about it.

“Our research on low-income and underrepresented students shows that many of them incorrectly believe they cannot afford college. It also suggests that they lack access to the information and supports they need to navigate their way through available resources,” said Montgomery. “Enhanced access to this information is vital to ensuring such benefits reach these students.”

ACT has already begun measures to help meet this goal by implementing programs to support college access, including the following: