Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie joined several of his Big Ten presidential colleagues April 25 on Capitol Hill for a meeting with House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan.
Their conversation centered on, among other issues, the historical importance of a government-university research partnership that McRobbie and fellow leaders of the Association of American Universities member institutions endorsed in a statement released following the AAU’s spring membership meeting.
McRobbie was accompanied at the meeting with Ryan and members of the speaker’s congressional staff by the leaders of Penn State University, Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The meeting began with a discussion of the value of university research, its impact on the nation’s health, economic prosperity and security, and how federal funding for scientific and other research has been critical to driving discoveries on college campuses that generate marketplace innovations and new jobs.
McRobbie highlighted how countries such as China continue to make massive investments in research and development, create institutions that emulate U.S. institutions of higher education and aggressively challenge the long period of American pre-eminence in higher education.
During a discussion on the Trump administration’s recent budget proposal and possible cuts to federal financial aid programs, McRobbie talked about the importance of Pell grants, which provide need-based tuition assistance to low- and modest-income students. In 2016, the program – the federal government’s largest grant program – provided financial assistance to more than 8 million students, according to the Department of Education.
More than a quarter of IU’s undergraduate population receives Pell grants, and IU continues to offer an additional Pell Promise Award to any in-state student who qualifies for a Pell grant. The award pays tuition and mandatory fees that are not covered by the grant or other types of gift aid.
These and other need-based aid programs are part of the university’s efforts to keep an IU education affordable and accessible and help students graduate on time with as little debt as possible. These efforts also include a financial wellness program, the subject of a recent McRobbie-penned commentary in the Chronicle of Higher Education, that has helped reduce borrowing by IU students by nearly $100 million in four years.