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Hare Helps Usher Largest Investment in Higher Education Since GI Bill to Committee Passage

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Hare Helps Usher Largest Investment in Higher Education Since GI Bill to Committee Passage

Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL), a Member of the House Education and Labor Committee, played an important role in guiding the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 to passage by the panel on Wednesday evening. The legislation would provide the single largest investment in higher education since the landmark 1944 GI bill—and do so at no new costs to taxpayers.

The committee approved the bill by a bipartisan vote of 30-16. The full House will vote on the legislation next.

"College costs have grown nearly 40 percent in the last five years and too many students have found themselves drowning in debt, or worse, unable to afford an education at all," Hare said. "I believe education is an investment, not an expenditure. This bill will increase our nation's competitiveness and allow Americans from all economic backgrounds to achieve the dream of a college degree."

The College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 would make need-based student loans more easily accessible and provide for additional mandatory funding for the Pell Grant scholarship by at least $500 over the next five years, benefiting nearly 230,000 students in Illinois, including over 22,000 newly eligible beneficiaries. "Illinois students and their families will receive more than $784 million over five years in the form of student loans and Pell Grants as a result of this legislation," Hare said. "I am proud to have played a role in advancing this historic investment in our children's future."

The legislation would also come at no new cost to taxpayers by cutting excess subsidies paid by the federal government to lenders in the student loan industry. "I have been outraged to learn of the unethical practices and conflicts of interest that have recently been revealed within the student loan industry," Hare said. "Taxpayer money should be used to make college more affordable for our students, not line the pockets of private lenders."

The bill includes a provision to cut the interest rate on subsidized student loans in half over the next five years—-from 6.8% to 3.4%, benefiting 128,765 student borrowers in Illinois. Once fully phased in, it would save the average four-year college student (who begins school in 2011) $4510 over the life of their loans. Hare voted for a similar proposal in January as part of House Democrats' "100 Hours" package.

Finally, the bill includes a number of other provisions that would ease the financial burden imposed on Illinois students and their families, including:

* Tuition assistance for excellent undergraduate students who agree to teach in the nation's public schools;
* Loan forgiveness for college graduates that go into public service professions;
* Increased federal loan limits so that students won't have to rely as heavily on costlier private loans; and
* New tuition cost containment strategies.

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