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House Passes Higher Ed Bill with Hare Amendments to Help Rural Schools

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

House Passes Higher Ed Bill with Hare Amendments to Help Rural Schools

Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL) today supported the College Opportunity and Affordability Act which included three of his amendments to improve education in rural areas.

"Illinois has over 200,000 rural students—many whose teachers and administrators are being stretched to the limit," Hare said. "My amendments seek to help recruit and retain more qualified educators for these communities so we can provide our children with the best education possible."

Hare's first amendment would expand Teacher Quality Partnership Grants to train students to serve as school administrators in rural areas through mentoring and professional development.

Hare's second amendment incorporates a bill he previously introduced—the College and University Rural Education (CURE) Act—into the legislation. The CURE Act establishes three grant programs to increase the enrollment of rural high school graduates into institutions of higher learning, build a stronger skilled workforce and spur economic development in rural America.

Hare's final amendment provides incentives for Colleges of Education to add a rural focus to their curriculum. This will ensure teachers are better prepared to deal with the unique set of challenges faced by rural schools.

"Rural educators have a very special and important job," Hare said. "Many juggle multiple hats. Some serve as mentors to low-income students. All face challenges with transportation and access to technology. These amendments seek to ease the burden on rural students by assisting the dedicated men and women tasked with helping them learn."

The overall bill would reform and strengthen the nation's higher education programs to ensure that they operate in the best interests of students and families.

The vote marked the second time in the 110th Congress that Hare has supported major legislation to help make college more affordable for students and families. Last year, he voted for legislation to boost student financial aid for low and middle income students by $20 billion over the next five years. That legislation became law in September.

"This Democratic Congress has shown an unprecedented commitment to making college more affordable," Hare said. "Working families should not be forced to accumulate mountains of debt in order to provide their children a decent education."

A report released by the College Board shows that tuition and fees at public 4-year colleges in Illinois increased by 12 percent over the last two school years.

The College Opportunity and Affordability Act would address these rising costs by encouraging colleges to rein in price increases, ensuring that states maintain their commitments to higher education funding, and providing students and families with consumer friendly information on college pricing and the factors driving tuition increases.

The legislation would also clean up corrupt practices in the student loan programs and protect students from aggressive lender marketing practices. It requires better consumer disclosures and protections on private student loans.

In addition, the bill would streamline the federal financial aid application process; make textbook costs more manageable by helping students plan for textbook expenses in advance of each semester; allow students to receive year-round Pell Grant scholarships; strengthen college readiness programs; and increase college aid and support programs for veterans and military families.

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