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Letter to Chairman George Miller on the College Cost Reduction Act

June 13, 2007

Dear Chairman Miller:


On behalf of the National Education Association's 3.2 million members, including some 200,000 students, faculty, and staff at postsecondary institutions, we commend you for the monumental changes to federal student financial assistance included in the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007.

We applaud you for providing long needed and awaited increases to the Pell Grant program. These grants are fundamental to ensuring that our nation's neediest students have access to postsecondary education. Reducing interest rates on student loans and broadening public service loan forgiveness provisions are also critical, as loans will continue to be a significant component of most students' financial aid packages. 

We also are enthusiastic about the new TEACH grants which will, for the first time since just after World War II, provide the kind of financial support needed to those entering the noble profession of teaching. This program will no doubt be seen in the same shining light as the GI bill, providing a foundation for a strong, effective teaching force. We would like to work with you further on a few provisions of this program, including concerns over the inclusion of for-profit institutions as well as technical issues relating to Highly Qualified Teacher requirements that could change in the middle of a student's college program.

We also hope to confer with you further to ensure that efforts to contain college costs do not have adverse budgetary implications for public institutions. It is our hope that public institutions would be able to benefit from incentives offered, but since they cannot always predict or control the budgetary impact of factors affecting a state's economy and the resultant level of funding, we are concerned that they might not be able to benefit sufficiently from these provisions. Further, we want to be sure that the cost containment provisions have no adverse affects on faculty and staff of public institutions, including any constraining effects on collective bargaining. Specifically, institutions, faculty, staff, and students should not be penalized in situations where they can not meet these standards through no fault of their own, largely because the institutions do not necessarily have discretion over how their funding is set. We look forward to working closely with you to be sure that public institutions, which remain the most affordable and accessible postsecondary options for students, are provided the support they need to serve their students, their state and our nation.

Thank you for working with us on this important legislation.  We commend you and the Committee staff for your extensive work on this legislation and for considering the interests and concerns of our members as the bill evolves.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy