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Public Statements

Student Aid And Fiscal Responsibility Act Of 2009

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HIMES. Thank you, Madam Chair. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I'd like to begin by thanking Chairman Miller and Ranking Member KLINE for their leadership on this very important bill.

Madam Chair, the next century belongs to the Nation which best educates its citizens today. If America wants to compete in the world economy, we need an educated workforce; yet, the single greatest barrier to higher education can be summed up in one word: cost.

College tuition has gone up more than any other good or service in the last 20 years. The Department of Education tells us that students hold a staggering $714 billion in outstanding student loan debt. If we want students to succeed in the classroom, we need to help them manage the financial commitments that got them there.

And so as Congress acts today to bring higher education within reach for millions more Americans, we must promote access to the financial education that students need to make what is usually the most important financial decision of their young lives.

The need to enhance our outreach here is enormous. Recent reports estimate that between 30 and 40 percent of first- and second-year students will be put into default at some point during the life of their loans.

At the same time, a financial literacy survey taken by Harris International in 2009 said that 47 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 give themselves C's, D's or F's on their knowledge of personal finance.

The amendment I offer today with my colleagues, Congresswomen MCCARTHY and SCHWARTZ, makes several technical changes to the underlying bill which, at no additional cost, will help to ensure that States, nonprofits and private loan servicers who benefit from the new investments in college attainment and completion made by this bill do their utmost to include high-quality financial literacy training in their efforts to help keep more of our kids in school and in the postsecondary degree of their choice.

The Himes-McCarthy-Schwartz amendment enjoys the support of the National Association of College Admissions Counseling, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, the Corporation for Enterprise and Development, and the Institute for Financial Literacy. I encourage my colleagues to vote in support of this amendment.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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