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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Federal act boosts financial aid funds

    The College Cost Reduction and Access Act – the single largest investment in student aid since the 1944 GI Bill – passed both houses of Congress Friday and now goes to President Bush.

    Without increasing costs to taxpayers, the act will provide billions of dollars a year in additional grant money to low-income students and help lower student loan debt, according to the press release. Bush has said he will sign it into law.

    Students at

    It’s comforting to know that when I graduate I will be paying a lot less money than I originally would have.

    Ashley Davis,
    speech, language and hearing sciences freshman

    Arizona colleges and universities will receive nearly $1.2 billion in federal financial aid over the next five years, according to the press release.

    “”This is the most meaningful piece of higher education reform in more than 15 years,”” said Tiffany Troidl, government affairs director for the Arizona Students’ Association. “”The bill trims subsidies from a handful of banks and, in turn, directs money to millions of students and families so it comes at no new cost
    to taxpayers.

    “”(It) addresses financial challenges of access and affordability by increasing grant funding and lowering rates for Stafford loans,”” Troidl added.

    Pell Grant awards will increase by $1,090 over the next five years, to a maximum of $5,400 per academic year, according to the press release.

    “”Low-income students will be able to receive money from the federal government that they won’t have to pay back,”” said Michael Slugocki, ASA vice chair and a political science senior.

    Interest rates for subsidized Stafford loans, now at 6.8 percent, will be gradually reduced to 3.4 percent over the next five years for more than 5 million low- and middle-income students, according to the press release. The rate change would save students about $4,730 each over the life of a loan at a
    four-year school.

    “”I had to take out a loan for most of my schooling, so this is great news,”” said Ashley Davis, a speech, language and hearing sciences freshman. “”It’s comforting to know that when I graduate I will be paying a lot less money than I originally would have.””

    College students who get TEACH Grants, which provide pre-paid tuition assistance of $4,000 each year to those who commit to teaching “”high-need”” subjects in high schools for four years, will also benefit from the act, according to the press release.

    Slugocki said he believes the bill’s most exciting aspect is the income-based repayment program that allows borrowers to repay their loans as a percentage of their income.

    “”Many students major in something they love but are forced to take jobs in the public and private sector in order to pay off their debts, rather than pursuing the career they wanted,”” he said.

    In 2005, 47 percent of students graduated from the UA with debt, the average amount being $16,012, according to www.projectonstudentdebt.org.

    “”It is a very exciting time because Congress is finally putting forth effort and time into improving higher education,”” Slugocki said.

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