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“An Historic Investment in Our People and Our Nation”
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) made the following statement today on the House Floor in support of the “College Cost Reduction Act:”
“Mr. Speaker, this landmark legislation – the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 – is yet another example of how this Democratic Congress is committed to moving our nation in a new direction and working on behalf of the American people.
“In short, this legislation will provide the single largest investment in college financial aid – about $18 billion over the next five years – since the “GI Bill” in 1944. And, it will do so at no new cost to American taxpayers by cutting excess subsidies paid by the federal government to lenders in the student loan industry. In fact, it includes $750 million in federal deficit reduction.
“A few months ago, Bill Gates – the chairman and co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation and one of our nation’s great innovators – wrote in the Washington Post: ‘If we are to remain competitive, we need a workforce that consists of the world’s brightest minds.’ Mr. Gates added: ‘Education has always been the gateway to a better life in this country.’
“Mr. Speaker, this legislation not only recognizes that education is a key to personal development, fulfillment and success, but also crucial to our national competitiveness, our continued prosperity and, yes, our security.
“Simply stated, this legislation will make a college education more affordable for millions of students.
“The fact is, college tuition today is exploding. Tuition at four-year public colleges has grown by 35 percent in the last five years. Too many students graduate with tremendous debt. And, too many others simply don’t go to college because they cannot afford it.
“To address this situation, this bill will increase the maximum Pell Grant scholarship by at least $500 over the next five years. When combined with other Pell scholarship increases passed or proposed by Congress this year, the maximum Pell Grant will reach $4,900 in 2008 and $5,200 by 2011 – up from $4,050 in 2006.
“The bill also will cut interest in half on subsidized student loans over the next five years, and it will guarantee that borrowers will not have to pay more than 15 percent of their discretionary income to loan repayments.
“In addition, this bill seeks to ensure highly qualified teachers in every classroom by providing up-front tuition assistance to qualified students who commit to teaching in public schools in high-poverty communities or high-need areas. It encourages and rewards public service – by providing loan forgiveness for first responders, law enforcement officers, firefighters, nurses and others.
“And, it encourages landmark new investments – $500 million guaranteed over five years – for historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribally-controlled, native or predominantly black institutions.
“Mr. Speaker, this legislation is a tremendous step toward realizing the goal of making college affordable for every qualified student. It is an historic investment in our people and our nation – and I urge members on both sides of the aisle to support.”