WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of H.R. 5, the “College Student Relief Act of 2007.” Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Speaker, our nation’s economic security and future prosperity are inextricably bound to our ability to compete in the global marketplace. And, in this 21st Century – a century in which knowledge, skills and creativity are key – our competitiveness necessitates a highly educated citizenry.
“As the journalist and author Tom Friedman has observed: ‘The main challenge to America today comes from the fact that all the walls are being taken down and many other people can now compete and collaborate with us much more directly.’ Former President Clinton also has remarked that ‘we are living in a world where what you can earn is a function of what you can learn.’
“Thus, today, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support this legislation – the ‘College Student Relief Act of 2007’ – which is a first step by House Democrats to make college more affordable and accessible. In short, this bill will cut interest rates on need-based federal student loans for undergraduate students from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent over five years. This legislation will cut the cost of college for an estimated 5.5 million undergraduate students and their families. And, when fully phased in, it will save the typical borrower, with $13,800 in need-based federal student loans, $4,400 in savings over the life of the loan.
“The irony, of course, is that at a time when an education is more important than ever to one’s success, the costs of attending college have continued to skyrocket. For example, just since 2001, tuition and fees at public universities have increased 41 percent when adjusted for inflation, and tuition and fees at private universities have risen 17 percent.
“Mr. Speaker, we simply need to make a college education more affordable and accessible – and this legislation helps us do that. Let no one be mistaken: H.R. 5 is not a panacea to the high costs of a college education, but it is a good first step. In the weeks ahead, House Democrats will continue to work on efforts to make college more affordable and to help our nation maintain and strengthen its leadership role in education and the world economy.
“Finally, I should note, Mr. Speaker, that this bill contains no new costs to taxpayers. It meets all pay-as-you-go budget requirements, containing offsets that pay for the cost of cutting interest rates. This legislation is supported by 88 percent of the American people, according to a recent Newsweek poll. And I believe this legislation will receive strong bipartisan support here today.
“I urge my colleagues – on both sides of the aisle – to support this legislation.”