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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

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

Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 2669 the College Cost Reduction Act. I would like to thank Chairman Miller and his staff for this bill that will provide New Jersey residents an additional $262 Million in loan and Pell grant aid.

Once signed into law, this legislation will ensure that more Federal student aid money gets to the students who need it, and in New Jersey, the need is great. Over 61,000 students in New Jersey take out need-based loans for 4-year schools each year and incur an average of over $14,000 in debt. Under the legislation, the maximum value of the Pell grant scholarship would increase by $1,090 over the next 5 years, reaching $5,400 by 2012. This increase would fully restore the purchasing power of the scholarship, which in recent years had been frozen at $4,050 until Congress boosted its value to $4,310 earlier this year.

I am pleased that the committee included several initiatives that I have been working on, including provisions from my bill H.R. 2017, the Part-time Student Assistance Act. We have raised the income protection allowance in the College Cost Reduction Act so that working students can work more without having that count against their student aid. Further, we were able to eliminate the earned income tax credit from calculations so that working families do not have to bear this burden.

The bill also provides upfront grant aid for those who are becoming math, science, and foreign language teachers. The bill would create grants providing upfront pre-paid tuition assistance of $4,000 per year with a maximum of $16,000 for elementary or secondary school math and science teachers and critical foreign language teachers. Our classrooms have an increasing shortage of teachers for these vital subjects. This problem is most severe in school districts were students come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Without qualified teachers in these areas, we are endangering the competitiveness of our children in the global economy.

Students who take out loans or receive Pell grants will now find it easier to finance their education. By investing in foreign language and math and science education, we'll enhance both our economic and national security. Part-time students will have an easier time balancing the need to care for their families and improve their education. This is public policy at its best--it lifts up Americans from all walks of life.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is an investment in our future. Without providing access to a college education we will not be able to compete with nations that have already made the investments in providing a quality education for their own children. The United States is a dominant world economy because of our educated workforce. With this bill we will take a larger step toward maintaining this edge and I ask my colleagues to support it.

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