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Third Higher Education Extension Act of 2006

Location: Washington, DC

THIRD HIGHER EDUCATION EXTENSION ACT OF 2006 -- (House of Representatives - September 27, 2006)


Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Mr. Speaker, while I intend to cast my vote in support of the Higher Education Act extension, I am extremely concerned about the unintended consequences on students at Nova Southeastern University in my congressional district and many other degree-seeking students that rely on financial assistance.

Nova Southeastern University is the largest independent institution of higher learning in Florida, offering the benefits of education to 25,000 students. Nova Southeastern's student body is unique. Eighty percent are evening and part-time graduate degree-seeking students who participate in the workforce while they are seeking their degree.

Nova ranks first in the Nation in awarding postgraduate degrees to Hispanic students and is among the leaders in awarding advanced degrees to African American students and disadvantaged students who depend on financial assistance to further their education.

Until earlier this year, Nova was also one of the Nation's leading participants in the School as Lenders program. This program allowed Nova to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in low-cost loans to students. Premiums from the sale of these loans provided the university with millions of dollars annually which it used to educate its students. School officials estimate that this year's premiums issued through an Eligible Lender Trustee may be worth as much as $10 million for the school.

But this is not just about one institution in south Florida. The version of H.R. 6138 that the House will vote on and ultimately pass today threatens to eliminate the ability of every school issuing loans through an Eligible Lender Trustee to control these premiums. Ultimately, the students seeking to improve their lives through higher education will bear the brunt of this change.

H.R. 6138 also eliminates the ability of school lenders and Eligible Lender Trustees to issue low-cost PLUS loans to graduate students. The expensive cost of graduate and professional school programs often requires students to withdraw multiple loans. Eliminating an important source of these loans will drive graduate students to seek more expensive loans, with greater fees and risks to the students.

While the overall goals of this legislation are noble and I support the programs that benefit so many, I encourage Members to carefully review the legislation because some of the provisions will hurt students more than help them and in some cases destroy a young person's dream of a higher education and a better future.

I understand and support this legislation but believe that not every aspect of it includes the rosy picture that has been painted here today.

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