Congressman Lynch believes that education is the foundation of opportunity in the United States. Working families deserve wages and benefits that allow them to support their families, put their kids through college, and enjoy a secure retirement. Students from all backgrounds deserve a first-class affordable education, from early childhood through college. A strong public education system ensures that children from across America will have the knowledge and training they need to succeed in this competitive global economy.
Preparing America's Students for Success:
Quality early education helps children succeed later in school and has been linked to increased math and language skills and better classroom behavior. On May 2, 2007, Congressman Lynch voted in favor of legislation to reauthorize Head Start, the premiere early education program in the United States for more than 40 years. The measure, which was signed into law in December of 2007, improved program quality and expanded access so that more of our nation's children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed. Specifically, the measure increased teacher qualifications and authorized $450 million in new funding for Fiscal Year 2008, providing up to 10,000 more children and families access to the program.
In addition, Congressman Lynch is committed to ensuring that America's school facilities are safe and healthy learning environments for children. Recent estimates have shown that America's schools require additional funding to bring them up to good condition. Accordingly, on May 14, 2009, Congressman Lynch voted in favor of H.R. 2187, the 21st Century High Performing Public School Facilities Act, which passed the House of Representatives by a margin of 275-155. H.R. 2187 seeks to make critical investments to modernize, upgrade and repair school facilities across the country. This legislation also seeks to improve education, create jobs, and encourage energy efficiency and the use of renewable resources in our nation's schools.
The rising cost of attending U.S. colleges and universities is a growing concern as many students are finding that their dream of attending an institution of higher education is out of financial reach. Congressman Lynch is committed to ensuring that all qualified students are given the opportunity to achieve their dream by making college more affordable and more accessible for America's hard-working families and students.
To this end, Congressman Lynch supported the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act, H.R. 4872, which contained provisions to make changes to the federal student loan program and provide funding for other education programs. Specifically, the measure shifts all new federal student lending to the Direct Loan Program, beginning July 1, 2010. Notably, private lenders will still be allowed to continue servicing student loans under a competitive bidding process based on criteria such as how well they serve borrowers, educate them financially, and prevent loan defaults. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the changes to the federal student loan program in this legislation will produce savings of $61 billion. Additionally, this legislation increases the maximum annual Pell Grant scholarship for low-income students from $5,550 in 2010 to $5,975 in 2017, and provides $2.6 billion for minority-serving institutions, provides $500 million annually from 2010 through 2014 for community colleges, and provides $750 million for a college access program.
Congressman Lynch also supported the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which reformed America's higher education system so that it operates in the best interests of students and families. Signed into law in August 2008, the legislation ensures that states maintain higher education funding and provides incentives, such as additional need-based aid, to encourage colleges to hold down price increases. In addition to streamlining the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process and creating a user-friendly website to provide students and families with helpful information about college pricing, the measure makes college more affordable for low-income students by allowing students to receive Pell Grant scholarship aid year round.