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Public Statements

Student Grant Hurricane and Disaster Relief Act

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Location: Washington, DC


STUDENT GRANT HURRICANE AND DISASTER RELIEF ACT -- (House of Representatives - September 08, 2005)

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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Speaker, let me thank my colleague from Louisiana (Mr. Boustany) for yielding me time.

I rise in strong support of this bill to provide additional relief to the victims of Hurricane Katrina who have been forced to withdraw from institutions of higher education as they work to rebuild their homes and their community.

The tragedy that has befallen the Gulf Coast region in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the level of devastation and its impact on American families is truly staggering; and our prayers remain with the residents of that region as well as those who are working on relief and this recovery effort.

We are working closely with the Department of Education to determine how we can best meet the needs of the children, families, teachers, and schools that have been impacted by this tragedy. We have identified an immediate need for action to assist students pursuing higher education who are forced to withdraw because of the devastation caused by the hurricane, and that is why we are taking action today.

I want to thank the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. Jindal) for introducing this bill to provide additional flexibility for students struggling to cope with this unprecedented natural disaster. The bill complements the measure offered yesterday by the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Keller) to protect students forced to withdraw from higher education as a result of a natural disaster.

This bill will give the Secretary of Education a new flexibility to waive burdensome requirements on students impacted by this or other natural disasters. The bill would ensure students forced to withdraw from higher education because of natural disaster would not be forced to repay their Federal student grant aid, alleviating what could be a major burden for students already coping with this disaster.

This type of waiver authority that we granted yesterday and then again today already exists for the student loan programs and is being provided yesterday by the gentleman from Florida's (Mr. Keller) bill for Pell grants and then today by the gentleman from Louisiana's (Mr. Jindal) bill that would allow the Secretary waiver authority for those who may receive grant programs and scholarship programs such as GEAR UP, TRIO, and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants.

As we assess the damage in the weeks and months ahead, we will be working with our leadership and our colleagues across the aisle to provide additional resources and additional flexibility to the communities impacted by this tragedy to make sure that all the resources of the Federal Government are available to help each and every American that has been affected.

So, once again, I want to thank the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. Jindal), the bill's sponsor, for his work and urge my colleagues to support the bill today.

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