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Brown Announces Final Passage Of Higher Ed Bill

Location: Washington, DC

Brown Announces Final Passage Of Higher Ed Bill

As the cost of college continues to rise, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today announced final passage of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007. This legislation would provide $20 billion in additional college aid to students.

"Everyone who wants to go to college should to able to," Brown said. "This bill is the biggest step in helping middle class and low-income students get an education since the passage of the G.I. Bill."

College costs are at an all time high and family income and student aid have not kept up. In Ohio, between 2001 and 2006, the cost of attending four-year public colleges increased 53 percent and the cost of attending four-year private colleges increased nearly 30 percent. During this same time period, the median household income in Ohio increased only 3 percent.

In the past 20 years, the cost of college has tripled nationally, forcing students to incur greater debt. Nearly two-out-of-every-three students have student loan debt, up from less than one-half in 1993, and the actual amount of debt from undergraduate loans also has soared. In the 2004-2005 school year, 66 percent of students graduating from four-year institutions in Ohio graduated with student loan debt. The level of debt for those students averaged $20,000.

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 would increase aid for students applying for need-based grants and provide better repayment options for borrowers, capping their monthly payment at 15 percent of their income. It includes a loan forgiveness benefit for borrowers in public service jobs, protection for working students by not penalizing their earnings, and matching grants to states to improve college access. Ohio students would see more than $797 million in Pell Grant aid over the next five school years.

The legislation cuts interest rates on new subsidized Stafford loans for undergraduates from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent by 2011 and provides scholarships of $4,000 per year for high-achieving students who commit to teaching high-need subjects in high-need schools. Ohio students would see nearly $305 million more in loan aid over the next five years. In addition, the legislation increases funding for the Upward Bound program, which provides tutoring and other supports to disadvantaged students to prepare, apply to, and succeed in college.

"There is more work to do. We must prevent private student loan gouging and reduce the cost of education before an entire generation is crippled with high interest debt," Brown added.

The conference report has passed the House and now will be sent to the president to be signed into law.

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