As the son of an educator, I know that education is the best investment that we can make in our future. Unfortunately, the federal government continues to fall short on the promises to provide the resources needed in our schools.
Education is the cornerstone to building America's future. We must make a national commitment to education by strengthening our schools, fully funding special education, and modernizing our classrooms. At the same time, we must work to reduce class size, put in place the means for students to attain higher education, and make sure that we have the best trained, most qualified teachers in the world. I am committed to providing high quality education to all of America's students, creating a nation ready for the challenges of the 21st century.
Because a college education is as important today as high school was a generation ago, the House passed landmark legislation to make college more accessible and affordable for all Americans. The College Cost Reduction and Access Act makes the largest increase in college aid since the GI Bill in 1944, boosting college aid by roughly $20 million dollars over the next five years.
With the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, the maximum value of the Pell Grant scholarship will increase by $1,090 over the next five years, reaching $5,400 by 2012, up from $4,050 in 2006, thus restoring the Pell's purchasing power. Some students will see an immediate boost of almost $500 in their Pell Grant scholarship in the 2008-2009 school year alone. Roughly 5.5 million low- and moderate-income students will benefit from this increase.
The legislation will also cut interest rates on need-based student loans in half, from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent, over the next four years. Once fully phased-in, this will save the typical student borrower - with $13,800 in need-based student loan debt - $4,400 over the life of the loan. About 6.8 million students take out need-based loans each year.
No one should be denied the opportunity to go to college simply because of the price, yet unfortunately, that has been what many American families have been forced to do. Tuition at four-year public colleges has grown by 35 percent in the last five years. Students and families are taking on increasing amounts of debt, and each year nearly 200,000 students are holding off going to college, or skipping it altogether, because they cannot afford it.
College is the best investment that students can make in themselves and that parents can make toward the success of their children. It is also the best investment our nation can make in America's future.