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Conference Report on H.R. 2669, College Cost Reduction and Access Act

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Location: Washington, DC


CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 2669, COLLEGE COST REDUCTION AND ACCESS ACT -- (House of Representatives - September 07, 2007)

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Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, there are a few provisions in H.R. 2669 that I believe are very important to students and parents across the country.

I support the increases in Pell Grants and cuts to interest rates on federally subsidized student loans provided in H.R. 2669. These provisions are the most effective way we can help low and middle income students achieve the dream of a college education, and I am pleased this bill will provide relief for those students.

I am also pleased that the final bill includes a small but very important provision that is similar to legislation I have introduced, the FAFSA Fix for Homeless Kids Act.

The current Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, creates insurmountable barriers for unaccompanied homeless youth--youth that are homeless and alone. These children do not receive financial support from their parents, and many do not have access to parental financial information or a parental signature required by the FAFSA. As a result, unaccompanied homeless youth are prevented from accessing the financial aid they need because they cannot supply the information required by the FAFSA.

The FAFSA Fix for Homeless Kids Act addresses these barriers by allowing unaccompanied homeless youth to apply for federal financial aid without providing parental income information or a parent signature. This will open the doors of higher education to some of our nation's most vulnerable youth, and I am pleased that H.R. 2669 includes the FAFSA Fix for Homeless Kids Act.

While I am encouraged that H.R. 2669 includes these provisions, I still have serious concerns about a number of other provisions in the bill. Specifically, I oppose the mandatory spending in the bill that is directed at institutions and philanthropic organizations. It is unprecedented to provide mandatory spending to these organizations. Instead of creating new and complicated programs, we should have provided additional funding to Pell Grants.

I also have concerns about the viability of the Federal Family Education Loan Program. During the last Congress, the Education and the Workforce Committee made $20 billion in changes to the Federal Family Education Loan Program by eliminating and reducing federal subsidies to lenders. Just two years later--certainly not long enough to evaluate the impact of those changes--we are back again squeezing student loan lenders. Does the Democratic leadership expect lenders to continue offering student loans out of the goodness of their hearts? This program is essential to the students and families in my district, and I hope that this legislation is not a back-door attempt to kill the Federal Family Education Loan Program.

I support H.R. 2669 because of the additional funding provided for Pell Grants, the decrease in student loan interest rates, and the hope it will give to unaccompanied homeless youth. However, I have serious concerns about the mandatory spending created in H.R. 2669 and the viability of the Federal Family Education Loan Program. I hope that in the future that we can work in a more inclusive manner to address the skyrocketing costs of college without adding to the deficit that students we are trying to help will eventually have to repay.

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