WASHINGTON, March 19 Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA) praised landmark student college loan reform and retention aid - including $36 billion for the popular Pell Grant scholarships - as part of the budget measure, which includes healthcare reform, slated for a vote in the House on Sunday.
"This is a win-win of historic proportions," Fattah said. "We are on the verge of delivering, with a single vote, long-overdue comprehensive healthcare reform and dramatic improvement in the way that millions of students are able to pay for their college education.
"I will be joining the overwhelming majority of Democrats in the House and the Senate in casting the most important domestic policy vote in a generation," Fattah said.
"We are going to get this done."
The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, a major deficit reduction initiative that includes increases for college access and completion programs and student loans, is joined with legislation that includes the Senate healthcare bill with corrections.
"The cost of a college education has been soaring at the same time that value and need for that college education has increased sharply as well," Fattah said. "Increased student loan assistance will guide our nation toward a better educated workforce, ready to step up to well-paying American jobs.
"This legislation includes special assistance for students in underserved and low-income households to access and remain in college," Fattah said. "Throughout my career I have championed initiatives to aid students who have the toughest time affording and accessing higher education."
Fattah is the author of GEAR UP - Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs - the nation's most successful college readiness and access program.
The bill saves taxpayers $61 billion over 10 years by switching to the cheaper Direct Loan program and eliminating subsidies for private banks, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It reduces the deficit by at least $10 billion over the decade and meets Congressional Pay-As-You-Go principles.
"This bill means more kids will be going to college and fewer of them will be paying back the national debt," Fattah said.
Major provisions of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act include:
-- A $36 billion investment over 10 years to increase the maximum annual Pell Grant scholarship to $5,550 this year and to nearly $6,000 by 2017. -- A $750 million investment to bolster college access and completion support for students. The College Access Challenge Grant program and innovative retention programs are included. -- $2.55 billion for historically black colleges and universities and minority serving institutions. -- $2 billion in competitive grants for community colleges to develop educational or career training programs.
SOURCE Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah