Senate Democrats

Senate Passes Bill to Make Higher Education More Affordable for Nevadans

Legislation gives every student a chance to succeed while making America more competitive

Washington, D.C. – Under the leadership of U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate passed a bill to make college more affordable for more Nevadans.  In addition to cutting interest rates on student loans, the College Cost Reduction Act provides $20 billion in additional college aid to students – the largest increase since the G.I. bill. And it will do so by cutting excess subsidies paid by the federal government to the student loan industry, and with no new cost to taxpayers.

“This is welcome relief for Nevada’s students and parents,” said Reid.  “We need to invest more in our future workforce and help them become successful and productive members of our society.  For far too long big banks and lending institutions have taken advantage of people who just want to go to school.   As the cost of a college education has skyrocketed, more and more Nevada students are shut out from the promise and opportunity of a college education. This legislation will help ensure every Nevadan can afford a college education.”

The legislation, which has received wide support from Nevada education leaders, will also increase federal grant aid and college access for low- and middle-income students by increasing the maximum Pell Grant by $500 this year, and to $5400 by 2012. The legislation will also help college graduates deal with increased education loan debt by cutting interest rates on student loans in half from 6.8% to 3.4%.

 “As a system of education we are working diligently to increase the number of Nevada students who gradate from college,” said Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Jim Rogers.  “Cost is a significant barrier in many instances, and passage of this act will make a tremendous difference in the lives of thousands of students who want to go to college.  I commend our Congressional delegation for supporting this legislation and for their vote to help more students get a college education.”

“Students are the true winners when access to higher education is increased,” said David B. Ashley, president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  “By making college and university education more affordable for deserving students, we invest in their future in a way that will pay dividends throughout their lifetime.”

“A university cannot be competitive unless it reflects the diversity of the world that we live in–our collective future depends on it,” said Milton Glick, president of the University of Nevada Reno.  “Nevada strives to be among the top states in educational attainment. We will recruit the best and brightest students from Nevada and beyond, remaining open to as many Nevadans as possible. This legislation will help ensure that Nevada can continue to contribute to an educated citizenry, creating an environment where diversity thrives.

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DEMOCRATS WORKING TO MAKE COLLEGE MORE AFFORDABLE

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act Will Provide Over $20 Billion in New Student Aid and Benefits – The Largest Increase in Funding Since the GI Bill…According to a recent report on education statistics, twenty years ago, the maximum Pell Grant covered 51 percent of the cost of tuition, fees, room and board at a public four-year college. In the 2005-2006 school year, the maximum Pell Grant covered roughly a third of these costs. Democrats have worked to rectify this decline in the purchasing power of the Pell Grant. Under the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, the maximum Pell Grant will be increased by $500 next year to $4800 and to $5,400 by 2012. [Analysis of Department of Education, NCES data; HR 2669, 2007; A New Commitment to Students and Families: Report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions, September 2007]

…..While Reducing the Interest Rate on Student Borrowers. The College Cost Reduction and Access Act reduces the interest rate on subsidized student loans, from 6.8 to 3.4 percent, making student loan repayment more manageable. [HR 2669, 2007]

The Measure Protects Borrowers By Making Repayment Terms Manageable.  The College Cost Reduction and Access Act places a cap on monthly student loan payments at 15 percent of discretionary income, so that graduates with significant loan debt can better manage their payments. [HR 2669, 2007]

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act Provides Incentives for Students to Pursue Public Service Employment. The measure provides loan forgiveness if a student borrower spends at least ten years in a public service profession, including military service. In addition, the measure creates incentives for students to pursue careers as teachers by establishing TEACH grants. The grants would provide $4,000 per year for undergraduate students who commit to teaching in high-need school districts. [HR 2669, 2007; A New Commitment to Students and Families: Report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions, September 2007]

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act Reduces Subsidies to Lenders and Redirects the Fund to Students. The measure injects competition into the federal loan program and saves taxpayer dollars by including a pilot program that reduces the amount of federal subsidies to student loan lenders. [HR 2669, 2007; A New Commitment to Students and Families: Report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions, September 2007]

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act Invests In Minority-Serving Institutions. The measure invests $500 million in minority-serving higher education institutions so they can provide a quality education for students who may not otherwise earn a degree. [HR 2669, 2007]

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