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Public Statements

College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the Lantos-Watt amendment to the Higher Education Reauthorization, H.R. 4137. This amendment clarifies that all graduate degree granting institutions are eligible as lead grantees under the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program in Title VII of the HEA.

Mr. Chairman, as a former professor at San Francisco State University, I know the caliber of student in their graduate programs. And with our proximity to Silicon Valley, many of the leading biotech companies have an embarrassment of riches to select from. Before the Department of Education undermined congressional intent, limiting participation of master's degree granting institutions, SFSU was routinely competing and winning GAANN fellowships.

Congress created the GAANN program to provide these fellowships for graduates with superior ability and financial needs studying in areas of national need. Under the original HEA statute and GAANN program regulations, graduate degree granting institutions including those terminating in a master's degree are eligible to participate as lead institutions in the GAANN program. Contrary to Congressional intent and the GAANN statute--which refers to graduate, not doctoral institutions--the Department limited participation as a lead entity in GAANN to doctoral granting institutions only. This action eliminated three master's degree granting programs at San Francisco State University, along with Florida A&M and North Carolina A&T from participation in the GAANN program. Until this action, SFSU had GAANN grants in biology and chemistry.

Mr. Chairman, in the President's FY09 budget released a few days ago the GAANN program was tabbed for an increase in funding to stem the long-term decline in the number of fellowships awarded under the program. The President recognized how effective these grants are and provided support for 747 fellowships, including 529 new fellows.

Mr. Chairman, GAANN is a competitive program. This provision would not open the program to new entrants. It would merely restore the ability of master's degree granting programs to compete with those granting PhDs. I proudly support the Lantos-Watt amendment and thank Mr. Watt for working with me to give all universities an opportunity to compete.

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