WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Murkowski today joined her colleagues in the Senate in passing the Higher Education Amendments of 2007. The bill includes language authored by Senator Murkowski that makes college more affordable for military service members and spouses, authorizes the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program and helps inform students and parents on the costs of college. “The amendments the Senate passed to the Higher Education Act increase student’s access to post secondary education,” said Senator Murkowski. “In particular, I am extremely proud that the Senate has agreed to my language in the bill that will make college more affordable for members of our military and their spouses.” Senator Murkowski worked to include language that exempts the value of on-base housing and the Basic Allowance for Housing from being considered as income for military service members and their dependents when a student’s need for financial aid is calculated. Murkowski began work on the amendment after meeting a spouse of a deployed soldier on Fort Richardson who had shared her difficulty in obtaining a Pell Grant. The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, which this legislation authorizes, guides students professionally and educationally through high school and college with a long term program including mentoring, academic support, group activities, scholarships and internships. The legislation also removes potential conflicts of interest between universities and lenders, simplifies the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid by reducing it from seven to two pages, allows for better planning through earlier determination of student aid and increases the maximum Pell Grant award to $5,100 immediately and $5,400 by 2011.