HOLT AUTHORS COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY, FOREIGN LANGUAGE, MATH & SCIENCE EDUCATION PROVISIONS IN HOUSE-PASSED HIGHER EDUCATION BILL
The U.S. House of Representatives tonight passed the "College Opportunity and Affordability Act" - legislation to make college more affordable and accessible for students in New Jersey and throughout the country. Rep Rush Holt (NJ-12), a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, authored a number of the bill's provisions, including expanding Pell Grants, improving child care programs for parents in school, and strengthening support for foreign language, math and science education. The bill will now go to the Senate.
"I am concerned that the number of Americans going to college is lower than it's been in years, and student finances is a principle reason for this," Holt said. "The College Opportunity and Affordability Act does just what the name suggests. These initiatives are part of the larger effort to make it easier for students to finance their education and to strengthen the quality of education they receive."
The College Opportunity and Affordability Act would expand Pell Grants, which are need-based grants for undergraduates. This year, Pell Grants will assist 5.3 million students. The bill would increase the authorized maximum Pell Grant award to $9,000 from the current $5,800. Additionally, the bill would adopt Holt's provision to allow Pell Grants to be used year round and for certificate programs and part-time students.
In addition to addressing rising college prices, the bill would help students manage their textbook costs, clean up conflicts of interest in the student loan industry, provide vital consumer protections on both federal and private student loans, and simplify the federal student aid application process.
The bill also includes the following Holt initiatives to:
--Improve the "Child Care Access Means Parents in Schools" Program" to empower small and community colleges to provide child care to working mothers so they can attend school.
Develop a Math & Science Honors Scholarship Fund and a Math and Science Incentive Program.
--The program would provide grants and loan forgiveness to math and science students who would commit to five consecutive years of service in a math or science field after graduation.
--Promote foreign language education by establishing grants for foreign language partnerships between local school districts and foreign language departments at institutions of higher education. The bill also includes grants to institutions of higher education to develop programs that combine foreign language with science curriculum.
--Create an Assistant Secretary for International and Foreign Language Education in the Department of Education. The executive-level officer would provide leadership in directing efforts aimed at international and foreign language education.
--Develop the "Preparing Teachers for Digital Age Learners" program to help teacher candidates effectively integrate technology in the classroom. The program would work with teaching candidates on how they can bring modern digital tools in the classroom.