Just two days after hundreds of students stormed Capitol Hill lobbying for increased federal action on college access and affordability, Congress passed the most sweeping overhaul of the student aid system in American history. The Healthcare and Education Reconciliation Act (HR 4872), passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate today after months of massive student support for the legislation.
“Today will go down in history as the day when the federal government chose to invest in college students over bank profits,” said United States Student Association (USSA) President Gregory Cendana. “By ending wasteful subsidies to private lenders and directing over sixty billion dollars of savings into financial aid programs, this legislation will ensure that millions of low-income and traditionally underrepresented students have access to higher education.”
The bill invests billions of dollars into the Pell grant, the cornerstone financial aid program that allows low-income students to attend college every year. Without passing this legislation, the Pell grant was jeopardy of being slashed by sixty percent. Additionally, HR 4872 invests billions of dollars in community colleges and Minority-Serving Institutions.
“Today the Senate listened to the American people by voting to… stop sending wasteful subsidies to big banks, instead of students,” said Education and Labor Committee Chair George Miller (D-CA), an ardent champion of college students. USSA, and students across the United States, applaud Chair Miller, Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and President Barack Obama for their continued devotion to college access and affordability.
While students nationwide celebrate this monumental victory, there is still much work that needs to be done to pass a student-friendly Fiscal Year 2011 budget and the DREAM Act. USSA’s 4.5 million college student membership will continue fighting these and other policies to make education a right.