Alexander: Congress Should Pass Bills this Year to Make it Easier For Tennessee Students to Attend College, Repay Loans

Posted on February 17, 2016

In Nashville, says there's no reason Congress shouldn't tackle bipartisan higher education issues this year

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“Last year Congress saw an urgent need and passed a bill to fix No Child Left Behind with broad support from Republicans and Democrats. This year, the urgent need is higher education.”

Nashville, Tenn., February 17 – Congress should this year help more students attend college by simplifying the “dreaded” FAFSA application for financial aid and by making it easier to lower your loan payments after you graduate, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said yesterday in Nashville.

“It's never easy to reach compromise on difficult issues, such as how to help students afford a higher education. But where we have a consensus, there's no reason Congress shouldn't tackle bipartisan higher education issues this year,” Alexander said.

Speaking to the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, Alexander, who is chairman of the Senate education committee, said, “Last year Congress saw an urgent need and passed a bill to fix No Child Left Behind with broad support from Republicans and Democrats. This year, the urgent need is higher education—we need to make it simpler and less expensive for students to attend college, and we need to cut through the jungle of red tape that is wasting money at our 6,000 colleges and universities across the country.”

Alexander then outlined some of his specific ideas for keeping college affordable:

“Reduce the length of the dreaded FAFSA form – which is the number one obstacle to applying for the Tennessee Promise's free tuition – from 108 questions to 2 questions, so more students can take advantage of our generous federal student aid programs.”

“Help students save money by graduating sooner. Our bipartisan FAST Act would make the Pell Grant available year round to students so they can complete their degrees more quickly, and start earning income.”

“Allow colleges to share in the risk of lending to students by having some “skin in the game.” This could provide an incentive to colleges to keep costs down and to students to borrow no more than they can pay back.

“Cut through the jungle of red tape: currently our colleges and universities are ensnared in a heap of regulations that add costs in complying with federal rules and regulations. We should remove unnecessary and burdensome regulations and stop passing on those costs to students.”

The Higher Education Act has been reauthorized eight times, and expired at the end of 2015. Last year the Senate education committee held eight hearings on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.

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For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.

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