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Today, President Bush formally signed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 into law. The bill, which passed in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House on September 7, 2007, is the largest federal investment in higher education since passage of the GI bill. It boosts the federal loan and grant programs by $20 billion dollars. It will go into effect for the 2008-2009 academic year.
The Act reduces interest rates for more than 5 million low and middle income borrowers over the next four years and creates a loan repayment program that is based on a graduate's income. It also raises the Pell grant maximum award; currently over 5 million students receive this federal need based grant aid.
“At Arizona State University, since 24% of the student body carries a Pell grant to pay for college, and 51% of the student body graduates with student loans, this act is a significant victory for students and should help more students be able to obtain a college degree,” said Elizabeth Simonhoff, President of Undergraduate Student Government at ASU Tempe. The average loan debt for students graduating with a Bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University is $17,016 .
"We've asked both President Bush and Congress over the past two years to act," said Cara Lancellotti, an Arizona PIRG student leader. "With the passage of this bill, they show that they heard us loud and clear."
College students through Arizona PIRG, the Arizona Students’ Association, and student governments organized student call in days to Congress, testified before the US Department of Education, created an on-line student debt yearbook, and took a large inflatable ball and chain symbolizing loan debt on tour across the country to call attention to the negative consequences of student loan debt.
"We applaud the bipartisan support in Washington, D.C. for keeping college affordable and accessible for all Americans," remarked Lindsay Bayuk, Board Chair of the Arizona Students’ Association.
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