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Letter to the full Congress supporting the higher education reconciliation conference report

September 06, 2007

Dear Senator/Representative:


On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, including some 200,000 students, faculty, and staff at postsecondary institutions, we urge you to vote YES on the conference agreement for the Higher Education Access Act (H.R. 2669), which could be on the floor this week. Votes associated with this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 110th Congress.

The conference agreement will help make the dream of higher education a reality for many students by helping make college more affordable. Specifically, the agreement:

  • Increases the maximum Pell Grant award. When the Pell Grant program was first created, the maximum grant for the poorest students covered 84 percent of the cost of a public four-year college. Today, it covers only 39 percent.

  • Reduces interest rates on subsidized student loans. Federal student loan programs provide critical access to postsecondary education to low- and middle-income students and their families. Unfortunately, with college costs on the rise, more students have to take out greater loans to cover their tuition and other college costs, while incurring record student debt. In 2003-04, the median student debt borrowed to finance a bachelor's degree was $19,300.

  • Creates new TEACH grants. These grants will, for the first time since just after World War II, provide the kind of financial support needed to those entering the important 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.

  • Creates an Asian American and Pacific Islander Higher Education Serving Institution designation. Such a designation has long been a goal of NEA.

Again, we urge your support for this important legislation.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy