Feb 26, 2010

College Affordability Strengthens the Middle Class, says Biden

Today, Vice President Joe Biden released the Annual Report of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, the findings of a committee that has spent the past year researching ways to improve the living conditions of working and middle class families. Among the most effective ways to help American families secure economic stability is increasing college access and affordability, the Task Force found.

“It has long been one of the core aspirations of middle-class families to provide their children with the opportunity to get a college education. Postsecondary education is strongly linked to higher earnings and greater economic mobility, offering one of the most reliable routes to a good career while providing a critical path into the middle class for children from lower-income families,” the report noted.

The Task Force’s findings include budget recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2011. They include capping student loan payments at ten percent of a borrower’s income and forgiving debt after twenty years, shifting all federal lending to the Direct Loan program, which would allocate over eighty billion dollars to need-based aid and access and retention programs, extending the American Opportunity Tax Credit, and making historic investments in community colleges and Minority Serving Institutions. The recommendation to shift lending to the Direct Loan program is the key feature in the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which passed the House of Representatives in September and is currently pending in the Senate.

“These findings highlight what millions of students and families already painfully know, that college costs are out of control,” said United States Student Association President Gregory Cendana, who attended Vice President Biden’s event releasing the report. “USSA is thrilled to see the Task Force recommending passage of student aid reform legislation that would put students over banks in the federal loan system. The Obama administration clearly recognizes the link between college affordability and a strong economy.”

The Task Forces’ findings come at the close of USSA’s Week of Engagement to pass a Senate companion bill to the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act. Students have spent the week writing letters-to-the-editor, calling legislators, and rallying on campuses in support of the legislation. USSA, and its 4.5 million student members at over 450 campuses nationwide, will continue advocating for this bill as well as the implementation of the Task Force’s findings in the final federal budget for FY 11.


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