Reed Votes for Bills to Help Students, Families Make Smart College Choices
Tom Reed and the House of Representatives passed a series of bills this week to help students and families make smart decisions when choosing which college or university is right for them and how they will pay for that education. With the goal of making college financing information accessible and in the hands of any student looking to further their education, the bills are common sense steps for every student looking to pursue higher education.
“Paying for college is one of the biggest decisions students and families will make,” Reed said. “With all of the information online ranging from where you’ll get the highest quality education to loans and financing, it can be overwhelming. Instead of complicating the maze of loan and grant programs, students deserve straightforward resources they can understand. At the end of the day, families need to be able to fairly balance the cost with the quality of education.”
The House passed three initiatives to help students and families through the process of making fully-informed decisions when looking at colleges and universities:
Ø The Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act better prepares students and parents to make sound, responsible choices when it comes to paying for college by making sure both students and parents who take part in the federal loan program receive counseling each year so they are fully aware of their financial obligations before receiving federal loans.
Ø The Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act gives students and their families a comprehensive resource to help in their search for the right college to meet their financial and educational needs. The bill creates a “College Dashboard” to house key information for students including FAFSA and Pell Grant information, and completion rates for students.
Ø The Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act gives schools flexibility in finding ways to give students a more cost-effective, personalized education by establishing competency-based education demonstration projects that are subject to annual reviews. Giving schools the flexibility to be innovative means students will get more out of their tuition dollars.
Through roundtables in the district with college students, parents and financial aid representatives, Reed hears regularly about what kinds of tools will be helpful for students so that they can select the school that best suits their needs and are fully aware of their obligations to pay back their loans.
“I feel for students when I talk with them about the rising cost of college whether it’s a two-year, four-year, public or private institution,” Reed continued. “To this day, I’m still writing those monthly student loan checks and understand how financial burdens from college extend far into the future. That’s why we are supporting these bills that are useful tools that care for students – so that students know what loan programs are available, understand what their borrowing situation looks like and give them the resources they need to get the high-quality education they want and can afford.”
College costs have increased by 51 and 35 percent for public four-year and two-year schools, respectively, since 2002 for in-state students. Even with the significant financial jump, there is a lack of counseling for students before, during and after loans are taken out. For example, no counseling is currently provided to students who receive Pell Grants or parents who decide to take out federal loans to help their children pay for their education. The higher education bills passed in the House today will help address that deficiency.
“With the significant financial decisions that come with paying for college, it’s not fair for students working toward a degree to not have the resources and information they need to help them make college financial decisions,” Reed said. “Any student that wants to further his or her education should have all of the information they need accessible to them.”