During a hearing today on addressing the urgency of making college affordability a priority, Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said higher education institutions must lead the way to find innovative methods to cut costs and save students money. Enzi said it is important that the institutions and Congress work together to come up with a long-term solution to make college more affordable and accessible.
"There is no doubt that college has become too expensive and it shows no signs of getting cheaper anytime soon," said Senator Enzi. "If this trend does not change, it will be almost impossible for us to achieve the President's recent challenge to again become first in the world in college graduates."
Senator Enzi noted that in the last three years, dramatic changes have been made to increase access to federal student aid and to help mitigate the cost of college for a greater number of low-income students. Unfortunately, these well intentioned changes have led to persistent funding problems in the Pell Grant program, including a 6 billion dollar funding gap that is now projected for fiscal year 2014.
"Maintaining the Pell Grant program in the short-term has come at the expense of other low and middle income students. We must address the long-term sustainability of Pell Grant sooner rather than later as we discuss college affordability," Senator Enzi said. "Waiting will only result in yet another costly last-minute short-term solution. We learned that lesson with student loan interest rates earlier this year and we do not want it to happen again."