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Congresswoman Maxine Waters Votes for Single Largest Investment in College Aid in American History: The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act

October 6, 2009
Press Release
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) yesterday helped pass The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) (H.R. 3221), the single largest investment in aid to help students and families pay for college in history. The legislation will expand access to an affordable college education to more American students, transform early education opportunities, and build a world-class community college system – at no cost to taxpayers.. The passage of SAFRA will help build a stronger, more competitive American economy for the future while saving taxpayers money.

"This is a crucial step in making sure more young people have the ability to attend college or get career training," said Congresswoman Waters. "SAFRA will also ensure that our work force remains the most highly skilled, cutting-edge and effective in the world and will help rebuild the American economy."

This bill is a major step forward in President Obama's initiative to ensure America once again leads the world in college graduates by 2020. SAFRA will reform the system of federal student loans to save the taxpayers $87 billion and will direct $10 billion back to the Treasury to reduce entitlement spending. SAFRA will change the way the student loan system functions by originating new loans through the government's Direct Loan program, but it will also maintain competition among private lenders and non-profits to provide top-notch customer service for student borrowers. This simple change will make college loans more reliable for students and families -- and ensure that loans operate in the best interests of borrowers by reducing many of the potential conflicts of interest that exist in the current loan system.  

"This commonsense reform is long overdue, and I'm proud to join President Obama and my Democratic colleagues in standing up for the American taxpayer by eliminating billions of dollars in waste, while at the same time dramatically expanding access to essential educational opportunities," said Congresswoman Waters.

With the largest ever investment in higher education, this bill will also significantly increase government grant and loan assistance for college tuition payments. Pell Grants, already distributed to more than 7 million students, will increase to $6,900 by 2019 from $5,350 today. SAFRA also keeps interest rates low on government-subsidized loans, makes substantial investments in early childhood education, expands the Perkins low-cost loan program to every U.S. college, and simplifies the process of applying for student financial aid.

"With tuition costs at both public and private colleges on the rise even as families struggle through a difficult economy, I'm thrilled we could come together to expand opportunities for higher education in this country," said Congresswoman Waters. "Allowing our students to graduate with a better education and less debt is the best way to ensure that American workers remain competitive long into the future."