"Our educational system's success or failure will determine the future of our nation. As the proud parent of two young children, I know firsthand the importance of early childhood education and safe well-run schools. I am committed to working in Congress to support education--from Pre-K to college and beyond." -- Rep. Adam Schiff
Reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act
Since 1965, Head Start has helped more than 18 million low-income pre-school children with a wide range of important early educational and health services. Head Start establishes a solid foundation for our children's education. In May 2007, Rep. Schiff voted for, and the House passed, the Improving Head Start Act to reauthorize and improve Head Start. The bill will expand access to Head Start and improve program quality so that more children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed.
School facilities are an important part of the education reform picture. The financial demands on states and cities to repair crumbling facilities and build new schools for the 21st Century are severe. Poor facilities make teaching and learning more difficult. Congressman Schiff supports legislation to help finance school construction and repair. He is an original cosponsor of the State Infrastructure Banks for Schools Act
Congressman Schiff believes that we need to do everything we can to recruit more teachers for our public schools and one way to do that is to help them pay off their student loans. Congressman Schiff is a cosponsor of the Teacher Excellence for All Children (TEACH) Act. This legislation provides financial incentives to encourage excellent teachers and principals to enter and remain in the profession by providing competitive salaries, tax breaks, and up-front pre-paid tuition assistance for undergraduate students who commit to teaching for four years. Congressman Schiff believes that providing a quality education to our students requires a commitment to support teachers and encourage talented young people to choose a career in education.
He is also a cosponsor of the Teach for America Act.
Making Higher Education Affordable
The cost of college has continued to explode in California and around the nation. A recent report by the College Board found that the average cost of tuition is continuing to rise. The report found the following average increases for in-state tuition:
§ Two-year public institutions: $2,191 (up 5.4 percent from the previous year).
§ Four-year public institutions: $5,491 (up 7.1 percent from the previous year).
§ Four-year private institutions: $21,325 (up 5.9 percent from the previous year).
Congressman Schiff believes we should augment existing federal programs to make sure that college is an affordable option for any student who has the talent and desire to pursue it. For this reason, Congressman Schiff has supported a variety of grants and loan programs that will ease the financial burden of college.
Congressman Schiff was an original cosponsor of the College Student Relief Act which the House passed in January 2007. Under this bill, the interest rate on federally subsidized student loans will be cut in half, from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent. When all changes are phased in, this bill will save the typical borrower, with $13,800 in subsidized federal student loan debt, approximately $4,400 over the life of their loan. As tuition continues to increase, it is important that we ease the burden of paying for college, which will help millions of middle class families and boost America's competitiveness. Congressman Schiff spoke on the floor in support of the legislation.
Increasing the Value of Pell Grants
Congressman Schiff has been a longtime supporter of Pell Grants, which provide no-strings attached financial aid to qualified young people and their families to help pay for college. For years, Congress failed to increase the value of the Grant to keep up with the rising cost of college. Congressman Schiff supports a real commitment to Pell Grants. In February 2007, he supported a spending bill that increased the value of the Pell Grant from $4,050 to $4,350 a year, the largest increase in decades. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, he has supported increased funding for Pell Grants, as well as the Perkins Loan program for vocational education.
Promoting Fairness for California Community College Students
California community college students are disadvantaged by so-called tuition sensitivity provisions in the Pell Grant program. Because California community college tuitions are uniquely low, California students receive lower grants than any other students in the country. Congressman Schiff supports the Pell Grant Equity Act, striking tuition sensitivity from the Pell Grant formula and ensuring fairness for California students. This bill passed the House of Representatives on a voice vote in February 2007.
Congressman Schiff is a member of the Community College Caucus
Supporting Transparency in Student Loans
The Federal Government participates in two major student loan programs -- the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL), which subsidizes private lenders, and a direct lending program.
Congressman Schiff has cosponsored legislation to increase the transparency of federally supported student loan programs to ensure that students get the best possible deal. He is a cosponsor of the College Aid Made E-Z Act, a bill that will simplify the form used to apply for college loans and will allow families to apply a year early for financial aid. This will make the process of applying for federal aid easier. He is also a cosponsor of the Student Loan Sunshine Act, which would require college and lenders to be up front with students about their options for obtaining a loan, including direct federal lending programs which often offer a significantly reduced interest rate. The Student Loan Sunshine Act was passed by the House overwhelmingly in May 2007.
Congressman Schiff also hosts an annual "Paying for College" workshop in the 29th District in conjunction with the Sallie Mae Foundation. This free workshop allows area high school students and their families to learn how to plan and pay for college. Each year, students are eligible to receive a $500 scholarship toward the cost of higher education.