Sen. Carper Supports Bill To Help More Attend College

Higher Education Bill Boosts Pell Grants, Extends Support for Students in Military

WASHINGTON – Recognizing the economic pressure on Delaware families facing increasing college costs, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) late last night cast his vote in favor of theCollegeOpportunity and Affordability Act of 2008 (HR 4137).

“Everyone who wants a college education should be able to get one – that’s part of the American dream,” Sen. Carper said. “Unfortunately, rising college costs mean fewer students and their parents can afford it. This legislation will help fix that problem by modernizing the federal Pell grant program, while also making needed changes to help service members, veterans and low-income students pay for their college expenses.”

The CollegeOpportunity and Affordability Act focuses on four major areas to:

  1. Hold colleges more accountable for their costs;
  2. Simplify the application process for federal financial aid;
  3. Correct ethical problems in the student loan marketplace;
  4. Expand grants to the most needy students.
“Last month, Congress passed a new GI Bill that provides free education for all veterans of the Global War on Terror,” Sen. Carper said.  “In this bill, Congress continues to honor the sacrifices made by our military and their families by providing a positive transition for these heroes and their families, whether they are coming back from battles abroad or are relocating from one state to another. This legislation is another important step toward making college a way of life for all of our armed forces.”                       

Now headed to the president for his signature, this legislation also contains major provisions to help students with disabilities attend college, supports innovative training programs for K-12 teachers, expands support for minority-serving institutions and creates special programs to address the nation’s nursing shortage.

Sen. Carper cited several other key education improvements in this bill that will help Delawareans: 

  • Increase the maximum Pell grant awards from $4,800 to $6,000 for 2009 and to $8,000 for 2014.
  • Authorize year-round Pell grants, and eliminate rules that limit the amount of Pell funds available to students attending the least-expensive schools.
  • Simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), by immediately creating a new 2-page EZ-FAFSA for low-income students.
  • Require colleges to establish a code of conduct for student loans.
  • Expand the amount of information that both schools and lenders must make available to the public annually, including up-front disclosure of loan rates and terms and data on total school costs.
  • Require schools to readmit members of the armed forces who are called away to duty assignments elsewhere.
  • Provide interest-free deferrals on student loans for service members on active duty.
  • Allow in-state tuition rates for service members, their spouses or dependant children when they move to a new state for military service.