Financial aid bill a win-win

By By Tina Parsons

By Tina Parsons

On Sept. 17, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation for House Resolution 3221, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009. The bill, being touted as a landmark investment in America’s economic future, is going to make schooling more affordable for students by lowering interest rates and increasing the amount of Pell Grant funds.

“This is a good bill,” said U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J. “It makes a landmark investment in college aid without costing taxpayers a dime.”

This is good news not only for students, but also for those whose taxes fund the education and federal aid programs. I am excited to see that there is new legislation to update the Higher Education Act of 1965. It is about time that students are given a break.

Although the bill has yet to pass in the Senate, all indications are that it will, and it is expected that President Barack Obama will sign the bill when it reaches his desk. One of the largest changes that the legislation will make is a provision for direct lending on Stafford loans.

The legislature has needed a revamping of the federal financial aid program for a long time, and now the steps have been taken to do just that. Direct lending will cut out the banks, and in essence, save the government $87 billion during the next 10 years. This will help students save money from interest rates and origination fees.

Unlike some federal financial aid efforts, this isn’t a short-term fix.

“It is too early to tell how this will affect student loans down the road, and I doubt that students will notice much of a difference,” said John Curl, director of financial aid at the U. However, he also said the legislation will be good for students and for the school in the long run.

In addition, the money saved by direct lending (cutting out the middleman) will be used toward elementary and secondary school funding for programs, such as the Early Learning Challenge Fund to increase high-quality, early-learning opportunities for low-income children. Some money will also spill over to community colleges.

Because this can be done without an increase in taxes, we need to move forward and get this bill implemented. By increasing the level of education and knowledge in our youth, we will see a higher level of freshmen entering our universities. This will allow everyone to start out strong without having to play catch-up. Not only will this new legislation make schooling more affordable, but it will also streamline the loan process altogether, making financial aid less complicated to attain.

A bill that can increase the educational benefits of our youth, improve community college education, lower the cost of interest rates, make federal financial aid less complex, provide additional funds for financial aid and not take more taxpayer money to fund sounds like a good deal.

Let your senators know how you feel about this new piece of legislation coming before them. Make your voices heard and demand changes that will impact your future. Obama has identified an opportunity to make historic investments in our economic future by improving early education opportunities and making college more affordable. Let’s make sure that our representatives follow through with what is in our best interest.

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