College to Congress Policy Ideas

2019 Focus: Higher Education

The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act has everyone from educators to the Department of Education generating ideas, plans, and proposals about how to improve our higher education system, however, one important voice is missing from the conversation - students -  the people who are struggling with the very problems everyone is trying to solve and living the impact of the policies they create.

College to Congress decided to do something about it - and invite congressional interns and college students to create their own solutions.

Read our 2019 Policy Ideas Book to discover how to make college more affordable, accessible, and minimize student loan debt - according to students!

How it came together:

The Congressional Ideas Market

On July 11, 2019  in collaboration with The Purple Aisle, a civic leadership accelerator, and with sponsorship from Google we hosted the Congressional Ideas Market - a popup policy ideas hack-a-thon to innovate for America’s future.  

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Step 1: Research

We divided College to Congress interns into bipartisan teams and tasked them with spending researching three focus areas: campus culture, affordability, and accessibility. They identified current problems, evaluated current approaches, and compiled their insights into policy reports which informed our 2019 challenge question.

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Step 2: Challenge Question

How might government support higher education in the US to reduce the cost burden while expanding access to both the competitive programs and critical services students need to be successful (i.e. accredited degrees, certificate programs, mental health services)?


Step 3: Congressional Ideas Market

Over 200 congressional interns, local college students, educators, Hill staffer, and policy organizations signed up to participate in our community brainstorm and solve the 2019 challenge question.

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Step 4: Open Voting

An open voting process allowed the best ideas to move forward during each elimination round, regardless of political party affiliation (though we tracked internally).

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Step 5: The Winners

All of the winning solutions were created by the students and congressional interns in attendance. They hailed from rural cities and urban centers, Ivy League and state-schools, and identified as Democrats, Republicans, and Independents!

The Winning Ideas

The Intern Research Reports

Prior to the Congressional Ideas Market, C2C interns spent three weeks conducting research in three key areas, Campus Accessibility, Campus Affordability, and Campus Culture. Their insights informed the Congressional Ideas Market challenge question.