Rep. Wasserman Schultz voted today to make the single largest investment in aid to help students and families pay for college in history -- and at no cost to taxpayers. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) (H.R. 3221) will expand access to an affordable college education for more American students, transform early education opportunities, and build a world-class community college system. The passage of the SAFRA will help build a stronger, more competitive American economy for the future while saving taxpayers money.
"Tuition costs at both public and private colleges continue to rise, even as families struggle through a difficult economy," said Rep. Wasserman Schultz (FL-20). "The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act will save hundreds of thousands of students money and expand critical opportunities for higher education in this country. This legislation allows our students to graduate with a better education and less debt, which is the best way to insure that American workers remain competitive long into the future."
This bill is a major step forward in the President's initiative to make sure America once again leads the world in college graduates by 2020. SAFRA will reform the system of federal student loans to save the taxpayers $87 billion and will direct $10 billion back to the Treasury to reduce entitlement spending. SAFRA will change the way the student loan system functions by originating new loans through the government's Direct Loan program, but will maintain competition among private lenders and non-profits to provide top-notch customer service for student borrowers. This simple change will make college loans more reliable for students and families -- and ensure that loans operate in the best interests of borrowers by reducing many of the potential conflicts of interest that exist in the current loan system.
"This reform is long overdue, and I'm proud to join President Obama and my Democratic colleagues in standing up for the American taxpayer by eliminating billions in waste, while at the same time dramatically expanding access to essential educational opportunities," Rep. Wasserman Schultz said.
With the largest-ever investment in higher education, this bill will also significantly increase government grant and loan assistance for college tuition payments. Pell Grants, already distributed to more than 7 million students, will increase to $6,900 by 2019 from $5,350 today. SAFRA also keeps interest rates low on government-subsidized loans, makes substantial investments in early childhood education, expands the Perkins low-cost loan program to every U.S. college, and simplifies the process of applying for student financial aid.
"This legislation is a crucial step toward rebuilding the American economy," said Rep. Wasserman Schultz (FL-20). "The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act ensures that young people have the ability to attend college or get career training, and that our work force remains the most highly skilled, cutting-edge and effective in the world."