Congressman Fattah Says New Report Spotlights Historic Gains by 111th Congress in Financial Aid for Higher Education

Oct 28, 2010, 14:23 ET from Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An important new report that spotlights the increasing federal aid available to defray college costs is proof positive that the 111th Congress has made great strides toward affordable and available higher education for all, says Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), a leading education authority in Congress.

Fattah applauded the College Board's recent "Trends in College Pricing" and "Trends in Student Aid" reports, citing evidence that Congress' efforts to keep college affordable are more critical now than even in years past.

The College Board reports show that while tuition, room and board expenses have risen for all categories of colleges and universities, student aid is up sharply. Pell Grants alone rose by $10 billion to $28 billion in 2009-10.

The American Opportunity Tax Credit, which Fattah authored as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, has helped even more students. The Treasury Department says 12.5 million students and their families were provided with billions in higher education tax benefits in 2009.

"Unfortunately, American families are hearing one part of the story, the rise in prices, and don't know all the work that the Democrats in Congress are doing to ensure access and affordability," Fattah said. "This Congress has made history in terms of supporting and funding our Education President's goal of a college education for all."

Specifically, the Congressman pointed to historic achievements in the Recovery Act and Higher Education Reconciliation. In 2009-10, about eight million taxpayers benefited from federal education tax credits and deductions and 7.7 million students received Pell Grants.

"In this economy we're learning the lesson that education matters," Fattah said. "On average, a college degree adds $1.3 million to lifetime earnings beyond earning by those without a college degree. When the unemployment rate is almost twice as high for high school graduates as it is for college graduates, we know that we must keep college accessible."

The achievements of the 111th Congress include enactment of the Recovery Act, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 and The Student Aid & Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA). These new laws contain the following funds for higher education:

  • $36 billion over 10 years to increase Pell Grants;
  • $750 million to bolster college access and completion support for students;
  • $1.5 billion investment to make college loans more affordable;
  • $2.55 billion invested in historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions;
  • $2 billion for community colleges to develop educational and career training programs;
  • The AOTC with a $8.7 billion increase in higher education tax incentives;
  • $200 million increase in work-study funds.

The College Board reports were the subject of an article in today's New York Times (Oct. 28) by Tamar Lewin.

SOURCE Office of Congressman Chaka Fattah