U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the Senate passage of higher education legislation on Friday will provide a $21.6 billion investment in higher education over five years that will benefit millions of students seeking degrees in colleges and universities across the country.
“I supported this legislation because these significant increases will make college more affordable and accessible for more Americans,” said Alexander, a former Education Secretary and University of Tennessee president. “The legislation significantly increases Pell grants, maintains a thriving student loan program, preserves an important role for non-profit lenders like EdSouth in Nashville, and provides greater loan forgiveness for important public service employees like teachers, school counselors, and first responders.”
Alexander, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said the legislation will also
Increase the Pell grant to a maximum of $5,400 over the next five years, a significant increase that will help more students afford college;
Provide grants of up to $4,000 a year to students who want to become teachers in high-need schools. This will help increase the number of qualified teachers in our neediest schools, help improve student achievement, and reduce the achievement gap.
The College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, which passed the Senate by a 79 to 12 vote, changes federal rules governing the student loan program. This final compromise version of measures passed earlier by the House and the Senate must now be voted on in the House before going to the White House for the president’s signature.
Despite voting for this legislation, Alexander said he is concerned about the unsustainable policy of temporarily reducing the interest rate for students who have already graduated from college.
“Congress will not be able to sustain those policies in the future, and students should not rely on the temporary nature of those promises,” Alexander said. “Increasing the Pell grants would be a better policy for our nation’s college students.”