Student aid bill OK'd by House

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard joined her congressional colleagues in voting in support of sweeping legislation she says will make college more affordable for students and their families.The legislation was part of a package of adjustments to the health insurance reform legislation signed into law on March 23. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act was included in the Senate amendments to health care reform. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 220-207. It now heads to President Obama for his signature. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act will boost Pell Grant Scholarships, keep interest rates on student loans affordable and create "a more reliable and effective financial aid system for families - and at no cost to taxpayers," Roybal-Allard said in a statement. "The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act expands affordable, quality, educational opportunities for students in our country. The legislation increases the maximum Pell Grant scholarship, strengthens community colleges and training programs, significantly increases government college grant assistance and lowers monthly student loan payments for borrowers with modest incomes," the congresswoman said. "Making sure our young people have the ability to attend college or get career training is a critical step toward rebuilding the American economy and ensuring that our country's workforce remains strong and competitive for many years to come." According to information provided by Roybal-Allard's office, the new legislation will: •Invest $36 billion over 10 years to increase the maximum annual Pell Grant scholarship to $5,550 in 2010 and to $5,975 by 2017. Starting in 2013, the scholarship will be linked to match rising costs-of-living by indexing it to the Consumer Price Index. This includes an investment of $13.5 billion to fund a shortfall in the Pell Grant program due to increased demand for the scholarship. •Invest $750 million to bolster college access and completion support for students. It will increase funding for the College Access Challenge Grant program, and will also fund innovative programs at states and institutions that focus on increasing financial literacy and helping retain and graduate students. •Make federal loans more affordable for borrowers to repay by investing $1.5 billion to strengthen an income-based repayment program that currently allows borrowers to cap their monthly federal student loan payments at 15 percent of their discretionary income. These new provisions would lower this monthly cap to 10 percent for new borrowers after 2014. •Invest $2.55 billion in historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions, including $100 million per year for 10 years for Hispanic-serving institutions, to provide students with support to stay in school and graduate. Hispanic-serving institutions are defined as public or private nonprofit institutions of higher education with at least 25 percent ore more Hispanic student enrollment. Local Hispanic-serving schools with students from the 34th Congressional District include Cal State L.A., East Los Angeles College and Cerritos College. •Invest $2 billion in a competitive grant program for community colleges to develop and improve educational or career training programs. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the legislation will save taxpayers $61 billion over 10 years. The savings generated by switching to the cheaper Direct Loan program will be redirected to fully pay for the federal funding increases to the other educational programs.

********** Published: April 2, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 50