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Higher Education Bill Fails to Make the Grade
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Representative Michaud will oppose
H.R. 609, the Higher Education Reauthorization Act since it does very little to
expand higher education opportunities for our country's students. The measure extends for another five years
higher education aid programs that were not extended and changed by the
recently enacted budget reconciliation law. Programs addressed by the bill
include the Pell Grant and Perkins student loan programs, work study, teacher
training programs, and aid to minority-serving institutions.
"This bill fails to make the grade
for providing postsecondary opportunities for students in our state," Michaud
said. "It fails to make
college loans more affordable and it freezes the authorized level of a Pell
Grant at just $200 above current levels through 2013."
The average student now owes $17,500 when he or she
graduates. When Pell Grants were first
enacted to help low and middle-income families, they covered 72 percent of the
average cost of a four-year public college.
Today, Pell Grants pay for only 30 percent of the costs.
"Now, more than ever, we need to diversify our economy in Maine," Michaud
said. "This bill represents a major missed opportunity to make college more affordable
and accessible, to boost Maine's economic
competitiveness, and to invest in America's continued prosperity."
"We all know that education increases the wages and
productivity of our workforce. In Maine,
workers with some college earn 15% more per year than those with a high school
diploma, and workers with bachelor's degrees earn 43% more than those with only
a high school diploma," said Michaud.
According to a January 2006 Mitchell Institute report, despite
a relatively high rate of high school completion in Maine and increasing proportions of high
school graduates expressing intentions to enroll in college, actual college enrollment
among recent high school graduates has not risen since 1998.
"What does this report mean?" Michaud asked. "It means college is still out of reach for
too many of our students. We have one of
the highest high school graduation rates in the country, yet when it comes to
enrolling in college, we rank 47th in the nation. Far too many of our bright students do not
have the resources to pay the soaring costs of higher education and Congress
should have done more in this bill."
"This bill and the recently passed budget bill are failures
for our students in Maine
and across the nation. It is my hope
that the Senate rejects this measure when it comes before them and instead
passes a strong bill that truly helps increase access to higher education."
To help Maine
families and students navigate the web of resources that are available to help
pay for college, Representative Michaud compiled a report on financing higher
education that is available on his website at www.house.gov/michaud. It contains helpful information on federal
aid and tax benefits, as well as sections on state aid and student loan