Just a few months ago, young voters came out in record numbers and helped elect a new Congress. Now, we deserve the attention of this new Congress on one of the biggest issues we face: the rising cost of higher education.
On January 17th, the 110th the House of Representatives took an important first step toward softening the blow of student debt by overwhelmingly passing a bill that cuts interest rates for subsidized Stafford student loans in half. It's now the Senate?s turn to promote opportunity for all by making college more affordable!
In addition to supporting the active legislation to cut subsidized Stafford loan interest rates in half, the coalition advocates a four-point plan to increase access to higher education:
In addition to supporting the current proposed legislation to cut Stafford loan interest rates in half, the coalition advocates a four-point plan to increase access to higher education:
- Increasing need-based grant aid by raising the maximum Pell Grant award to $5100.
- Making student loans more affordable by lowering interest rates, limiting the percentage of income students spend repaying loans, expanding loan forgiveness programs for critical public service careers and reinstating the refinancing of existing loans.
- Cutting waste in the student loan programs by passing the Student Aid Reward Act to give money to students and parents, not banks.
On January 11, 2007, our national coalition held a press event and lobbied Congress at the Capitol in D.C., while people across the country called on their Representatives to make college affordable. We hope to keep up the momentum until everyone has the opportunity to receive a quality higher education without accruing a crushing debt load.
Some great legislation has already been introduced. Click here to learn more.
Join our fast growing Campaign for College Affordability! There are three ways to take part:
- Virtually: Send the letter, tell your friends, and join our Facebook group.
- Where you're at: Organize on your campus to make sure student issues are heard on Capitol Hill throughout the semester. Just send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org to show your support and we'll tell you how.
- In Print: Write op-eds and letters to the editor about this issue to keep it on the agenda.
- HR 5: The College Student Relief Act of 2007
On January 12, 2007, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) introduced HR 5, the College Student Relief Act of 2007. As part of the Democrats? 100-hours agenda, the bill will halve interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans over five years, resulting in a 3.4 percent interest rate by July 1, 2011. It will save the current typical student borrower $2,280 over the lifetime of the loan. In addition, U.S. PIRG Higher Education Project notes that by 2011, the average four-year college student beginning school will save $4,420 over the life of their loan. On January 17, the House of Representatives passed the College Student Relief Act of 2007, 356-71. Read more?
- Senate Bill: Student Debt Relief Act of 2007
On February 16, 2007, the Senate will introduce the Student Debt Relief Act of 2007 that will continue the push the College Student Relief Act and forge ahead with more encompassing legislation to make college affordable and accessible. The Senate Democrats will continue to cut interest rates and push to increase the maximum Pell Grant to $5,100, push colleges to use the federal loan program?instead of the less efficient private loan sector, cap student loan payments at 15% of a monthly discretionary income and forgives student loans after 25 years. In addition, the Student Debt Relief Act of 2007 will forgive loans for graduates who enter into public sector jobs after 10 years. Read more?
- President Bush FY2008 Budget & Higher Education
On February 5, 2007, President Bush released his FY2008 budget that included several higher education provisions. The budget increases maximum Pell Grant aid from $4,310 to $4,600 this year and increases it to $5,400 by 2012. However, the president?s budget increases the maximum Pell Grant by cutting $1.6 billion from several key higher education programs. The programs most adversely affected are: the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Perkins loans, Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnerships, and the Thurgood Marshal Legal Educational Opportunity Grant. In addition, President Bush also pays for the Pell Grant increase by partially cutting subsidies to student loan lenders; in essence, he has not increased funding for higher education. Read more?
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