Letter to the House Supporting Highway Bill Deal (student loans, rural ed)
June 29, 2012
On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we urge your support for the Surface Transportation conference report scheduled for floor vote today. This important, bipartisan package includes critical provisions to stop the student loan interest rate hike and to extend funding for the crucial Secure Rural Schools program. Votes associated with these issues may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 112th Congress.
We are very pleased with the proposed agreement to stop the looming student loan interest rate hike. With interest rates set to double in just two days, millions of students are facing an additional burden that may put college out of reach. The average student will face an additional one thousand dollars in debt if the interest rate is allowed to increase. Adding to the student loan debt burden will not only harm students, but will impact our economy, as those who face crushing debt cannot buy homes or cars, start businesses or support families, or invest, invent, innovate or otherwise contribute to economic recovery.
We are also very pleased with provisions in the conference report that extend for one year the Secure Rural Schools program. Prior to passage of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act more than a decade ago, many forest-impacted communities had seen dramatic reductions in federal forest land revenues due to significant decreases in federal timber sales. As a result, many forest communities faced devastating losses of education funding leading to cuts in services to students, elimination of extracurricular programs, cancellation of school meals programs, and postponement of desperately needed building repairs. Over the past decade, the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act has restored critical educational services for students in over 775 rural counties and 4,400 schools. It has prevented the closure of numerous isolated rural schools. This extension allows Congress additional time to continue working on a long-term sustainable solution without sacrificing students’ education, sustaining additional teacher layoffs, or reducing public services like libraries and public safety.
Again, we urge your support for this important legislation.
Director, Center for Advocacy
Director of Government Relations