Feb 1, 2010

Students Applaud Major Investments in Obama's Budget, Express Concern for LEAP Elimination

Today, President Obama released his proposed budget for the Fiscal Year 2011, which continues his administration’s commitment to college affordability by increasing education spending by 7.5 percent. The budget proposes the transition of the Pell Grant to an entitlement program, strengthens the new Income-Based Repayment program, and makes key investments in community colleges and minority-serving institutions through the American Graduation Initiative. Additionally, the budget advances student aid reform policies found in the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (HR 3221).

“The higher education funding increases in President Obama’s budget are indicative of shifting federal priorities that recognize the benefits of college investments,” said Gregory Cendana, President of the United States Student Association. The president’s budget proposal makes the Pell Grant an entitlement program, expands eligibility by one million students, and raises the maximum award amount from $5,350 to $5,710.

Moreover, the president has proposed lowering federal student loan repayment amounts from 15 to 10 percent of a borrower’s discretionary income, shortening debt forgiveness from 25 to 20 years, and allocating $642 million to minority-serving institutions. Students also support the elimination of the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), which will save tens of billions of dollars that will go towards need-based financial aid. This elimination is the main reform found in HR 3221.

Students are concerned about the elimination of the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP) program and funding freezes for the federal TRIO programs and Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) and their effects on college access. Students nationwide will continue advocating for these and other youth priorities in the final federal budget. Fighting for a student-friendly federal budget will be a top priority during USSA’s 41st annual Grassroots Legislative Conference and National Student Lobby Day March 20-23rd, 2010.

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