Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Congress passed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (H.R. 2669) Conference Report. The House approved the bill 292 to 97, while the Senate voted 79 to 12 to approve the bill.
The conference report now goes to the President’s desk for his signature.
The landmark legislation represents the largest increase in student aid since the GI bill. This legislation will help millions of students and their families pay for college, with no new cost to U.S. taxpayers.
Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, a member of the Education and Labor Committee, worked to include language in the base bill from previous Congresses. Specifically included was loan forgiveness for librarians, first responders, and bilingual educators in high need areas. In addition, he worked to ensure an increased investment in minority service institutions.
The legislation would boost college financial aid by more than $20 billion over the next five years. The bill reduces excessive federal subsidies paid to lenders in the college loan industry by $20.9 billion. It also includes $750 million in federal budget deficit reduction.
“The legislation is an investment to our students and their family, which is a great return for our future,” said Grijalva. “The bill reduces the debt of our students and helps the middle class.”
The College Cost Reduction and Access Act include a number of other provisions that would ease the financial burden imposed on students and families by the cost of college, including:
- Up-front tuition assistance for excellent undergraduate students who agree to teach in the nation’s public schools providing a greater teacher workforce.
- Loan forgiveness for college graduates that go into public service professions.
- Increased federal loan limits so that students will not have to rely as heavily on costlier private loans
- Strategies to help colleges contain costs.
- Encourages state and philanthropic participation in increasing the number of first generation and low-income college students.
- $200 million in grants over the next five years to Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and $60 million to Tribal Colleges and Universities.
- $228 million for Upward Bound, a program that helps prepare low-income, first generation students for college.
The legislation increases the maximum Pell Grant to $5,400 by 2012 and expands eligibility, cuts student loan interest rates in half, and raising loan limits, the College Cost Reduction Act includes over $500 million for the Perkins Loan Program. In Arizona, that means the 212,968 student recipients will see a $490 increase in their maximum Pell Grant scholarship next year and that at least 33,000 students will save over $4,730 in interest rates for their loans.
“The College Cost Reduction and Access Act ensures that college is affordable and accessible,” stated Grijalva. “Today, Congress provided financial relief for students and their family, giving universities a bigger role in distributing funding not private lenders.”
Regrettably, the final language did not include two amendments that Rep. Grijalva was able to include during committee debate.
The first amendment would expand eligibility for part-time students and legal permanent residents to receive Academic Competitiveness Grants and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (National SMART Grants), just as they are eligible to receive other forms of federal student aid. The second amendment allowed for certificate program students to be eligible to receive ACG and SMART grants. The programs include biotechnology, aerospace manufacturing technology, electronics engineering and renewable energies which are critical to our nation’s competitiveness.