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Student Aid And Fiscal Responsibility Aact Of 2009

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Student Aid And Fiscal Responsibility Aact Of 2009

The House in Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 3221) to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes:

* Mr. KIND. Madam Chair, I rise today in support of H.R. 3221, The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.

* With the struggling economy, rising cost of tuition, and decrease in the availability of student aid, working families are finding it increasingly difficult to send their children to college. In order to ensure that America is able to compete in the global economy and remain a leader in the innovative industries of the future, this historic legislation invests in our economic future by making college more affordable and accessible. By reforming our student loan system, simplifying the student loan application process, investing in community colleges to create a highly skilled workforce, and strengthening early childhood education programs we will guarantee that the next generation is equipped with the necessary skills to compete worldwide.

* In a fiscally responsible way, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act will make college more affordable and accessible by transforming our student aid system. The reforms will make student loans more reliable and accessible for a greater number of students. Pell Grant Scholarships will receive an additional $40 billion over the next 10 years, $500 million of that will go to students in Wisconsin. In 2019, it is estimated that 20,000 western Wisconsin students will be awarded $75 million in Pell Grants. The bill also simplifies the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form by allowing families to fill out the application with information from just a tax return to prove eligibility.

* This legislation also invests heavily in community colleges to cultivate a highly skilled workforce to compete in the global economy. It will encourage and support relationships between community colleges, businesses, states and adult education programs. These partnerships are already occurring in western Wisconsin and with additional grants and investment, our community colleges will be able to strengthen and build upon these partnerships, creating additional jobs and economic development.

* Not only will the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act do a better job getting kids to college, it will also provide assistance to ensure that they make it to graduation. Investing in college access and completion support programs will ensure that students receive guidance to ensure they make it to graduation. Further, secondary schools in western Wisconsin will receive $57 million for school renovation to improve the classroom experience and enhance learning for students.

* Ensuring that children are put on a path toward academic success begins at an early age. I have always believed that we must place an emphasis on early childhood education in order to prepare students to excel once they begin in school. I have long supported and advocated for legislation that would strengthen early childhood education by providing states with grant opportunities, increased funding, and better training for educators. In previous years, I have introduced legislation that would have accomplished many of the same goals of this bill by creating an Early Learning Challenge Fund to award competitive grants to states that implement early education reforms. This provision is crucial as we work to provide learning and development opportunities to children at an early age, ensuring that kids are ready for success once they enter the school system.

* As the country continues to work through some of the most difficult economic conditions in a generation, it is imperative that we increase our investment in education. Innovation and a highly skilled workforce are keys to unlocking the future potential of America. If we are truly going to compete against emerging nations like China and India, we must continue to invest in our education system.

* I am proud to represent western Wisconsin, which is home to six universities and dozens of community and technical colleges. With such an emphasis on higher education, we have long been working to become a leader in producing workers for the 21st Century's global economy. This historic legislation will build on the infrastructure already available in western Wisconsin and make higher education more affordable and accessible for everyone.

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