Monday, July 23, 2007

President Set to Veto College Cost Reduction Act

I started to get upset when I read the title to this one. No worries, it's not as bad as the attention grabbing headline make out. Basically, Bush doesn't think the House's Bill is strong enough.

President Set to Veto the College Cost Reduction Act

What was once called the "largest investment in college financial aid since the GI Bill, helping millions of students and families pay for college," now faces a certain veto. recently reported on the introduction of the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 (H.R. 2669). According to the author, U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the bill would make the single “largest investment in college financial aid since the GI Bill, helping millions of students and families pay for college.”

One of the most important aspects for servicemembers and veterans is the proposed $500 increase in Pell Grant scholarships over the next five years. When combined with other Pell scholarship increases passed or proposed by Congress this year, the maximum Pell Grant could reach $5,200 by 2013, up from $4,050 in 2006. Roughly 5.5 million students would benefit from this increase.

The College Cost Reduction Act also includes a number of other provisions that would ease the financial burden imposed on students and families by the cost of college:

Tuition assistance for excellent undergraduate students who agree to teach in the nation’s public schools;

Loan forgiveness for college graduates that go into public service professions;
Increased federal loan limits so that students won’t have to rely as heavily on costlier private loans; and

New tuition cost containment strategies.

“For years, college costs have been growing rapidly, far outstripping families’ ability to pay them,” said Congressman Miller. “With this bill, we are saying that no one should be denied the opportunity to go to college simply because of the price.”

However, in a statement issued by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, the bill fails to meet that goal. “[The bill] does little to benefit America's neediest students and essentially diverts a majority of savings in the bill to individuals out of school rather than focusing on aiding low-income students in school,” wrote Spelling.

According to Secretary Spelling, the House bill devotes only 38 percent of its savings to benefit low-income students, with only $5.8 billion dedicated to increase Pell Grants. While the President’s budget plan invests nearly 100 percent of its proposed savings to help students most in need, including $19.8 billion to support increases to the Pell Grant.

According to the official policy statement issued by Sec. Spellings’ office, the President’s senior advisors have recommended that he veto the House bill if it passes as introduced.

These Department of Education programs have a significant impact on servicemember and veterans’ “out-of-pocket” education expenses.

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