Rep Andrews Votes for Bill to Address Rising College Prices & Remove Other Barriers to College Enrollment
I'm proud to announce I recently voted for legislation to address the soaring price of college tuition and remove other obstacles that make it harder for qualified students to go to college.
On Thursday, the House approved the College Opportunity and Affordability Act (H.R. 4137), which would reform and strengthen the nation's higher education programs to ensure that they operate in the best interests of students and families. The legislation is the second major step that the new Democratic Congress has taken to make college more affordable and accessible for all qualified students. Last year, Congress enacted into law a $20 billion increase in college financial aid over the next five years, the largest increase in student aid since the G.I. Bill of 1944.
In the global economic competition, the difference between winning and losing is having skilled workers or not having skilled workers. This bill takes a major step forward in making sure that we have skilled workers, that America puts its best team on the field at all times.
An October 2007 report from the College Board showed that, over the previous five years, tuition and fees had increased across the board, at both public and private colleges, as well as at two-year and four-year colleges. The bill would address these rising prices by encouraging colleges to rein in price increases, ensuring that states maintain their commitments to higher education funding, and providing students and families with consumer friendly information on college pricing and the factors driving tuition increases.
The legislation also strengthens provisions previously approved by the House to avoid conflicts of interest in the student loan programs. The bill's new provisions include requiring better consumer disclosures and protections on private student loans. Together these protections form a Bill of Rights for college consumers.
I fought especially hard to have language added in order to achieve the following results:
* Autistic students now have the opportunity to pursue secondary education;
* Parents can feel safer knowing universities will have to alert the emergency contact within 24 hours upon receiving notification that a student is missing;
* Returning reservists have recourse if they are treated as readmitted students by reporting it to the Department of Education;
* Schools are now required to have a policy in place for meningitis vaccinations, which can include making vaccinations available to students at a reasonable cost;
* Financial aid advisors can now take into account medical expenses for family members with ALS when determining financial aid packages;
* Institutions will now have a policy in place for the proper disposal of computer hardware;
* Institutions can now obtain funding to create joint technological innovation programs with other countries;
* Institutions can now obtain funding to provide medical school training on healthcare quality and safety;
* Institutions can continue to help high risk students obtain loans;
* Blind students will now have an opportunity to get improved computer access;
* Students can obtain Pell grants year round.
* Students attending foreign medical and nursing schools can now apply for Stafford loans;
* Institutions will now have policies in place to reduce illegal downloading of music;
* The Secretary of Education can now offer competitive grants to encourage training in court reporting and real-time captioning;
* College Campuses will have improved policies on campus fire safety;
* Victims of any crime of violence and their families will now be able to know the final results of disciplinary actions taken by an institution;
* Institutions will now disclose all foreign funding contributions of more than $1 million if they are related to international studies programs;
* Both institutions and accreditors will have a role in determining accreditation standards to make sure students are receiving the best quality education;
* Career colleges and proprietary institutions will have more flexibility in meeting the federal matching requirements for students;
* The Secretary of Education can now make grants to institutions to award fellowships to minorities and women seeking degrees in academic areas in which such individuals are underrepresented in the higher education professoriate.
H.R. 4137 is a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the primary federal law aimed at expanding college access for low- and middle-income students. The bill is supported by a broad coalition of students, colleges and universities, consumer rights advocacy groups and minority organizations. I want to commend my colleagues for passing such a critical piece of legislation that will help college students and families across the country.