Kind Votes to Send College Cost Bill to President
Bill is Single Largest Investment in Federal Assistance for College Since GI Bill
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) today joined a bipartisan majority in the House in passing the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. The bill provides the single largest investment in higher education since the 1944 GI bill, helping millions of students and families pay for college, at no new cost to taxpayers. The Senate also approved the bill today, and it now goes to President Bush, who is expected to sign it into law.
“It is high time that this investment was made, and I am pleased it will soon be signed into law,” Rep. Kind said. “College costs have grown nearly 40 percent in the last five years while federal support for college has stagnated. Students are graduating from college with more debt than ever before, and many are delaying higher education, or skipping it altogether, because they don’t believe they can afford it.”
The College Cost Reduction and Access Act will boost college financial aid by more than $20 billion over the next five years, and cuts interest rates on subsidized student loans in half over the next four years. This will include more than $210 million in additional funding to Wisconsin students and families. The bill pays for itself by reducing excessive federal subsidies paid to lenders in the college loan industry by $20.9 billion.
Under the legislation, the maximum value of the Pell Grant scholarship will increase by $1,090 over the next five years, reaching $5,400 by 2012. Close to 6 million low- and moderate-income students across the country will benefit from this increase, including nearly 68,000 in Wisconsin.
To reduce the cost of loans for millions of student borrowers, the legislation cuts interest rates in half on need-based student loans, from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent over the next four years. The rate cut will save the typical student borrower a total of $4,400. About 76,000 students take out need-based loans each year in Wisconsin.
“This bill shows that we can be responsive to the concerns of families in western Wisconsin, while maintaining fiscal responsibility,” Rep. Kind said. “By boosting scholarships and reducing loan and tuition costs, this bill is making an historic investment in America’s college students, its economic competitiveness, and its future.”
The College Cost Reduction and Access Act also includes a number of other provisions:
Tuition assistance for excellent undergraduate students who agree to teach in public schools;
Loan forgiveness for college graduates that go into public service professions;
Increased federal loan limits so students won’t have to rely as heavily on costlier private loans; and
Strategies to contain the increasing cost of tuition.