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With Yarmuth's Support, Bill to Cut College Costs, Boost Opportunities Approved by House Education & Labor Committee


First Reauthorization in a Decade Includes Five Yarmuth Initiatives

(Washington, D.C.) Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) and the Committee on Education and Labor unanimously approved the College Opportunity and Affordability Act, further addressing the soaring price of higher education and removing other obstacles that make it harder for qualified students to go to college. 

“With the growing emphasis on college degrees, the American Dream is escaping too many hard working people,” Yarmuth said.  “This legislation will bring that dream back within the grasp of millions of Americans, contribute to our nation’s competitiveness in the global economy, and help restore faith in the future for a new generation of students.”

The College Opportunity and Affordability Act is a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the primary law aimed at expanding college access for low- and middle-income students.  The bill includes five initiatives from Yarmuth, detailed below:
  • Revolutionizing Education through Digital Investment Act – Introduced 9/20/07
    • Transforms and modernizes the way technology is used in the classroom. 
    • Establishes a non-profit National Center for Learning Science and Technology that will focus on research and development in education and training.  
    • Transform America’s education, workplace training, and lifelong learning through the development of technologies, in the same way that comparable technologies have already transformed the nation’s economy, communications and financial systems, national defense, and people’s everyday lives.
    • “Despite the multitude of new technologies that are available to us, we have yet to scratch the surface of what we can do in the classroom to ensure that America’s children stay ahead of the curve.  This measure creates a system that will not only implement the technology we have, but also a framework to keep pace as new technologies are developed,” Yarmuth said.
  • $10,000 Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants – Introduced 6/25/07
    • Provides $2,000 of annual loan forgiveness for five years for teachers, nurses, librarians, national service participants, school counselors, medical, mental health, and nutrition professionals, and others.
  • Partnership Grants for Literacy Coach Training
    • Enables universities to seek partnership grants for literacy training.
    • Addresses the demand for high quality literacy coaches in our schools and lays the professional development groundwork for the Striving Readers Act (which Yarmuth introduced in April).
  • Student Success Grants  – Introduced 8/3/07
    • Provides students with mentoring and guidance to help attain college degree.
    • Begins to fix 55 to 1 ratio of college access aid to college success aid.
    • Schools where at least 50 percent of students test into remedial education will be eligible for $1,500 grants for every Pell recipient.
    • Funding will be provided to Success Coordinators, college and career success courses, work-study opportunities in students’ fields of study, better instructional support, and learning communities that cluster students to create a more constructive learning environment.
  • Centers of Excellence in Veteran Student Success   (introduced with Higher Education Subcommittee Chairman Ruben Hinojosa)
    • Develops a new grant program to establish support centers for veterans.
    • Centers will provide academic guidance and mental health support to ensure that veterans make a smooth transition from the battlefield to the classroom.

In addition to Yarmuth’s initiatives, the bill will regulate and limit tuition hikes at public schools, clean up corrupt practices in student loan programs, protect students from aggressive lender marketing practices, and require better consumer disclosures and protections on private student loans.  In addition, the bill will streamline the federal financial aid application process, make textbook costs more manageable by helping students plan for textbook expenses in advance of each semester, allow students to receive year-round Pell Grant scholarships, strengthen college readiness programs, and increase college aid and support programs for veterans and military families. 

Today’s vote continues Yarmuth’s commitment to increasing accessibility and affordability of college following the College Cost Reduction Act, which increased student financial aid by $20 billion and was signed into law in September.