Congressman Tim Bishop vowed to protect and enhance federal investments to make college more affordable, in response to yesterday's release of the College Board's annual "Trends in Higher Education Series" report for both student aid (for the 2011-2012 school year) and college pricing (for the 2012-2013 school year).
Tuition and fees at private nonprofit four-year institutions increased by 4.2 percent, from $27,883 in 2011-12 to $29,056 in 2012-13. Total charges at private nonprofit institutions this academic year, including room and board for students living on campus, average $39,518.
During the 2012- 2013 academic year, tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities rose 4.8 percent, from $8,256 in 2011-12 to $8,655 in 2012-13. Costs at public two-year colleges rose from $2,959 in 2011-12 to $3,131 in 2012-13, a 5.8 percent increase.
"States are cutting funding for public colleges and universities and asking students to pay more, so the federal government must step in to ensure no American student is denied access to higher education based on their financial situation," said Congressman Bishop, a senior member of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education. "Federal support for students is a necessary investment in competitiveness in the 21st Century economy."
Pell Grants are the primary federal higher education grant program, which provided support for 9.4 million American students (37% of all undergraduates) in 2011-12. Bishop voted against funding cuts and eligibility reductions for Pell Grants contained in the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Resolution passed by Republicans in the House, known as the "Ryan Budget" for Chairman of the Budget Committee and Vice-Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI). The Ryan Budget proposed changes to Pell Grants that would result in a cut of at least $104 billion to the program over the next decade, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Over 18,000 students attending college in the First Congressional District receive Pell Grant aid totaling nearly $70 million annually. In the most recent academic year, nearly 9,000 SCCC students--approximately one-third of the student body--received Pell Grant aid, which does not need to be repaid, unlike federal student loans. Recently, Suffolk County Community College's (SCCC) Board of Trustees adopted a resolution urging Congress to reject the funding cuts and eligibility reductions for federal Pell Grants.
"The College Board's report shows that the federal government is stepping in to meet a critical need for students and their families, and I will continue to fight for college affordability and investments in America's future," said Bishop, a former Provost of Southampton College who is the only currently-serving member of Congress to have administered federal student-aid programs.
Earlier this year, Bishop joined Stony Brook University administrators and students at SBU's Student Activities Center to highlight the importance of federal student aid programs for students attending college in New York's First Congressional District and call for a sustained federal commitment to helping students achieve their dreams through higher education. A video of the Stony Brook University event is available on Congressman Bishop's YouTube page, including testimonials from four SBU students about their reliance on student aid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_9nYW1u1yM&feature=plcp.