Washington, DC—Democratic Senators and Congressmen joined college students at a press conference today to discuss Democrats’ efforts to make college more affordable for more Americans, giving every student a chance to succeed while making America more competitive. Congress is working to send the President a bill that provides $20 billion in additional college aid to students – the largest increase since the G.I. bill. It will also increase grant aid and college access for low-income students, and makes the student-loan system work for students, not the banks, by cutting interest rates on loans in half over five years.
“College education has become more important that ever,” said Senator Edward Kennedy, Chairman, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “By making college more affordable for young Americans, we not only open doors of opportunity for them, but we equip a new generation of Americans to compete and win in the global economy. Just as the GI bill half a century ago, this bill increases access to higher education for millions of Americans.”
Said Senator Charles Schumer: “Earning a college degree can decide a young person’s fortune, but it shouldn’t cost one. This landmark bill will give those who struggle to pay for college and those who can’t afford it at all a chance at a lifetime’s worth of opportunity, minus the lifetime’s worth of debt.”
“Without Pell Grants and student loans I never would have been able to attend college,” Senator Patty Murray said. “So I know what this bill will mean for the millions of students who rely on financial aid to realize their dreams. With college becoming more expensive and more students leaving school saddled with debt, the deck is already stacked against them. By increasing Pell grants, cutting interest rates, and putting students first, this bill will begin to turn the tide.”
Said Congressman George Miller, Chairman, House Education and Labor Committee: “With this bill, the Democratic Congress is delivering on our promise to make college more affordable and accessible for all qualified students. The College Cost Reduction and Access Act will invest more than $20 billion in college financial aid – providing real student and borrower benefits that will not only help make college more affordable, but will help expand access for millions of Americans. There is no smarter policy – or greater priority – than helping all students get a good college education and pursue their dreams.”
“This groundbreaking legislation ensures that American families have access to the financial aid they need to pay for college,” said Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, chair of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education Lifelong Learning and Competitiveness. “It also leverages our resources so that more first-generation, low-income students can pursue a college degree and realize their full potential.”
Said Congressman John Yarmuth: “The College Cost Reduction Act is classically American, rewarding work with increased Pell Grants, leveling the playing field by expanding tuition assistance, and fostering opportunity by helping graduates out of a life time of debt. With increased competition from around the world, educating our citizens is paramount to America’s future prosperity.”
“The new Democratic-led Congress continues to keep faith with voters who demanded change in last fall’s election,” said Congressman Joe Courtney. “This conference report establishes a record investment in college financial aid for students and their families ensuring a sound and competitive future for our nation. I applaud Chairmen Miller and Kennedy for their continued support of higher education institutions, which have a significant presence in my eastern Connecticut district.”
The Senators and Congressmen were joined by college students from around the country, including Van “Trea” McPherson, a New Jersey native and rising senior at the University of Connecticut who will have around $18,000 in student loans to repay upon graduation. McPherson also chairs the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group, where he works to keep college affordable and accessible.