Finally, some help

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What do you think about a bill that would increase the federal Pell Grant amount and distribution, slice the interest rate for student loans in half, give tuition assistance to teaching majors and loan forgiveness for graduates who are employed in public service fields? It’s about time, right?

This new bill would be a step in the right direction for the future of education. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate seem to agree, voting in favor of this new bill entitled The College Cost Reduction Act of 2007. Currently they are bouncing it back and forth, hammering out the details with amendments. The bill is poised to implement several money-saving benefits for students during the next five years.

For the 2007-2008 school year, the Pell Grant can award a maximum of $4310 per student annually. The College Cost Reduction Act will increase the estimated family contribution income limit from $20,000 to $30,000 annually, raise the maximum Pell Grant offering over five years to $5,200 per student, depending on their individual situation, and allow Pell Grants to be given twice a year.

According to CollegeBoard.com, the 2003-2004 median student loan debt for bachelor degree recipients was $19,300. This does not include higher-interest-rate student credit cards, which students often use to pay for books and school supplies. Often the federal loans are not enough to cover tuition, fees and living expenses, so students also take out private loans that have higher interest rates. With freshly printed bachelor’s degrees and mountains of debt, many graduates do not have enough time to secure their ideal careers and are forced to get mediocre jobs to pay off their debt.

The College Cost Reduction Act will increase the amount of federal loans available for students so they won’t have to take out as much in those private loans and student credit cards. Also, the interest rate is being reduced for the Federal Family Education Loan from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent. For $19,300 in student loans to be repaid in a 10-year period, this reduction would save $3,493.56 in interest.

The College Cost Reduction Act would also provide federal loan forgiveness to students who go on to work fulltime to service the community. Jobs eligible for this loan forgiveness include early childhood educators in low-income communities, nurses, some foreign language specialists, librarians, child welfare workers, speech pathologists in elementary or secondary schools, National Service participants, elementary or secondary school counselors that have a high percentage of disadvantaged students and public sector employees. This will not only help students that decide to take one of these career paths, but the entire community.

These are just some of the many benefits of The College Cost Reduction Act 2007. It will also attempt to stifle the ever-escalating tuition increases for teaching majors. It proposes to give more funds to historically black colleges and universities, as well as minority serving institutions. Helping out college students is a strong investment for the future of America.

“I teach fourth grade and I would hate to think that my students will be told or think that college costs too much,” said PSU student Beverly Guttag. Since her school district pays for her classes, this bill will not personally affect her, but she thinks that it is a positive step to help students with financial needs. “Education is supposed to be a great equalizer, but it doesn’t equalize if only the wealthy or those willing to assume large quantities of debt can benefit.”

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