Press Release

REP. LOEBSACK VOTES TO EXPAND COLLEGE ACCESS AND STRENGTHEN IOWA’S FUTURE

Higher Education Opportunity Act Passes With Three Loebsack Authored Provisions

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Washington, Jul 31, 2008 | Gabby Adler (202-225-6576) | comments
Today, Congressman Dave Loebsack voted in strong support of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, H.R. 4137, the first reauthorization of the Higher Education Act since 1998.  This bill, which contains three Loebsack authored provisions, will reform our higher education system so that it operates in the best interests of students and families, while boosting our competitiveness and strengthening our future.

“Throughout Iowa, young people are striving for the American Dream, and they are achieving it through education,” said Congressman Loebsack.  “However, rising costs and other barriers are making it more difficult for these students to achieve their goals.  I am pleased that I was able to get provisions included in this landmark legislation that will help to remove these barriers and make college more affordable and accessible for these dedicated students.”

As a member of the Education and Labor Committee, Congressman Loebsack has worked with his colleagues throughout the drafting of this legislation to ensure it meets the needs of Iowa students working to achieve the American Dream through education.  As a result of these efforts, three provisions authored by Congressman Loebsack were included in the final bill.  

The first measure included in the legislation at the request of Congressman Loebsack makes college more affordable for low-income and non-traditional students by allowing full-time and part-time students working toward a certificate, or degree to receive Pell Grant scholarship aid year round.  As a result, these students will be eligible to receive two Pell grant awards in a single academic year, allowing thousands of Iowans and students across the country to accelerate their studies and enter the workforce sooner.  Congressman Loebsack began working on this measure last June, and remains committed to seeing it enacted into law.

“Congressman Loebsack was instrumental in ensuring that the new year-round Pell Grant provides maximum benefit to the unique needs of community college students.  This was achieved through including part-time and certificate students in the grants," added George R. Boggs, President and CEO, American Association of Community Colleges.

Congressman Loebsack, in partnership with his colleague Congressman Phil Hare from Illinois’ 17th Congressional District, worked to ensure this legislation addresses the growing shortage of school administrators in rural school districts by including provisions that will create grants to help eligible education institutions and agencies train students to serve as superintendents, principals, and other administrators in rural areas.  Students will also have access to mentoring and professional development opportunities.

Lastly, Congressman Loebsack, along with Congressman Zach Space, from Ohio’s 18th Congressional District, and Congressman Hare worked to include a provision in the legislation to support partnerships between rural colleges and rural school districts to encourage more graduates of rural high schools to continue on to college.  The provision also encourages coordination between rural colleges and regional employers that would create an employment pipeline.  

“In Iowa, 46 percent of schools are in rural areas and serve close to 170,000 students,” noted Congressman Loebsack.  “By strengthening efforts to direct qualified students into education careers in rural areas, we can begin to address the difficulties encountered by rural schools to recruit and retain qualified teachers and school administrators.”

Other provisions in the legislation will:

  • Encourage colleges to rein in price increases and provide consumers with helpful information
  • Restore integrity and accountability to the student loan programs
  • Simplify the federal student aid application process
  • Make textbook costs more manageable
  • Expand college access and support for low-income and minority students
  • Increase college aid and support for veterans and military families
  • Ensure equal college opportunities for students with disabilities
  • Boost campus safety and disaster readiness plans
  • Encourage colleges to adopt sustainable and energy-efficient practices
  • Strengthen our workforce and our competitiveness

Congressman Loebsack’s support of the Higher Education Opportunity Act is the latest in his continued efforts to make college more affordable and accessible. Last September, Congress enacted the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which provides Iowa Student with almost $255 million over five years in federal college aid for students over five years – and at no new cost to taxpayers. This spring, Congress also enacted the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act, which safeguards students’ access to federal financial aid from turmoil in the U.S. credit markets.

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