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Higher Education Extension Act of 2004

Location: Washington, DC

HIGHER EDUCATION EXTENSION ACT OF 2004 -- (House of Representatives - October 06, 2004)


Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, this bill extends our higher education program for one year. We need to do this because Congress has not completed its work in reauthorizing the Higher Education Act this session.

While I support this legislation, it represents a missed opportunity. Students are facing some of the worst tuition increases in decades. Families have struggled to find ways to pay for college. Unfortunately, the bipartisan cooperation has not been as helpful as it was back in 1998, and the administration has neglected its role.

The Congress and the Bush administration have frozen the maximum Pell grant over the last 3 years. Indeed, Republican higher education legislation which failed to move would have jeopardized college affordability for millions of students by eliminating the ability of students to lock in low, fixed interest rates when they consolidate their student loans, by reducing student choice in how they can repay their student loans, and by increasing the ability of students to go further into debt.

If we did reauthorize the Higher Education Act, we could have addressed the critical needs of students, including allowing student borrowers to refinance their consolidation loans and lock in today's low interest rates. This increases the long-term affordability of college. We could have provided incentives to help colleges hold down increases in tuition. Recent tuition increases have hit American families and students especially hard. We could have allowed working students to keep more of the funding they earn than having it used to calculate their student aid. Unfortunately, today, we are not going to be improving our student aid programs. Instead, we are keeping the status quo.

While this bill is necessary, we have lost an opportunity. I look forward to working with my colleagues as we did in 1998, hopefully in a bipartisan fashion in the next Congress, to improve our higher education programs.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Holt).


Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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