Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL), a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, today voted for the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, legislation that makes the single largest investment in student aid in our nation's history and transforms the way current lending programs operate, all at a savings to taxpayers.
By starting all new federal student loans in the more stable and cost-efficient Direct Loan program instead of private banks, this bill saves $87 billion over 10 years. It invests more than $76.1 million of that savings directly into the 17th Congressional District to increase the maximum annual Pell Grant to $5,550 in 2010 and $6,900 by 2019.
Furthermore, the legislation creates an Early Learning Challenge Fund, which would award $1 billion each year in competitive grants for states to improve early childhood education programs. It also invests more than $165 million in Illinois for school construction so our students can learn in safer and more energy-efficient classrooms.
"The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act will give more students and families access to the American Dream," Hare said. "By improving early childhood education, building better schools, and making college more affordable, we can ensure that our future workforce is able to compete in a 21st century economy."
The legislation included several amendments and provisions authored by Hare.
His first amendment allows states to use the Early Learning Challenge Fund to implement School-Wide Positive Behavior Supports (SW-PBS) in pre-kindergarten programs. SW-PBS addresses problem behavior in children by rewarding positive behavior and has been proven to improve school climate and academic outcomes at the K-12 level nationwide.
Another amendment co-authored by Hare and Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) would require states receiving federal grants to report on the specific barriers they face in expanding early childhood education to disadvantaged children. Investment in early learning programs has been proven critical in addressing the achievement gap for low-income students.
Hare also added a series of technical changes to ensure rural community colleges, like those in his district, can compete for the grants and carry out the programs authorized in this bill.
"As a proud member of the House Community College Caucus and the representative of six community college districts, I am thrilled that this bill acknowledges the importance of community colleges in rebuilding our nation's economy," said Hare.