SENATOR MURKOWSKI JOINS COLLEAGUES INCREASING COLLEGE ACCESS AND AFFORDABILITY
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Murkowski today joined with her colleagues in passing the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007. The bill increases students’ access to affordable education in college or through job training by increasing the amounts of Pell grants, putting a cap on student loan payments, providing for loan forgiveness and funding the new College Access Partnership Program.
“This legislation makes higher education more affordable and accessible for students,” said Senator Murkowski. “Financial aid has not kept pace with the rising cost of college. By increasing the maximum dollar amounts of Pell Grants, making it easier to obtain federal aid and providing protection from unmanageable loan payments, we are giving more potential students access to an increasingly expensive endeavor.”
The College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 also includes a provision Senator Murkowski fought for – The College Access Partnership Program. The program includes the following provisions:
• Expands borrower benefits for low income and Pell eligible students and provides assistance for students and families in dealing with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and college applications;
• Provides professional development for guidance counselors, financial aid administrators and college admissions counselors in order to improve assistance to students; and,
• Funds outreach activities for students at-risk of not enrolling in higher education and provides funding to improve student preparedness for post-secondary entrance examinations.
“The College Access Partnership Program will allow AlaskaAdvantage borrowers to continue to receive some of the lowest interest rates in the nation, and will help pay for programs designed to get more Alaskan kids into college and job training,” said Senator Murkowski.
In addition, the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 includes the following provisions:
• Increases the maximum grant for Pell eligible students to $5,400 by 2012;
• Relief from excessive loan burdens by capping loan repayments at 15 percent of the borrower’s discretionary income;
• Allows public service employees, employees of non-profit organizations, and faculty at Tribal Colleges such as Alaska’s Ilisagvik College to have their Direct Loans forgiven after 10 years service;
• Provides $4,000 a year TEACH grants for students committing to teach high need subjects in a high need school for a minimum of four years;
• Provides additional funding for Minority Serving Institutions such as the University of Alaska; and,
• Increases the loan deferment period for members of the National Guard, Reserves, and active duty service members who are serving in combat zones
The bill also contains language championed by Senator Murkowski that protects non-profit and state agency lenders. “State agency lenders such as the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education have demonstrated that they recycle federal subsidies to reduce loan interest rates, provide outreach and college early awareness to middle and high school students, pay borrowers’ loan origination fees, and to provide need-based grants. I am pleased that both the House and Senate agreed with me that these benefits must be protected.”