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 Home > News & Policies > September 2007

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 27, 2007

Fact Sheet: College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007
President Bush Signs Legislation Expanding Pell Grants To Make College More Affordable For Our Nation's Students

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     Fact sheet President Bush Signs College Cost Reduction and Access Act
     Fact sheet In Focus: Education

Today, President Bush signed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, which will make college more affordable for low-income students by increasing funding for Federal Pell Grants by more than $11 billion. The Pell Grant program helps ensure low-income students have access to higher education by providing need-based grants to help students meet education costs. The bill the President signed today will expand this program by increasing funding for Pell Grants by $11.4 billion over the next five years and allowing the maximum Pell award to increase from $4,310 in 2007 to $5,400 by 2012.

  • Since 2001, the Administration has increased funding for Pell Grants by nearly $5 billion dollars. The number of students receiving Pell Grants has increased by more than one million since the President took office. In addition, President Bush last year signed legislation creating Academic Competitiveness and SMART Grants to further reward Pell Grant-eligible students who completed rigorous high school programs of study, or who are majoring in math, science, engineering, or critical foreign languages.

  • The President has proposed expanding Pell Grants even further, and the bill he signed today brings us closer to his goal. The President's 2008 Budget asked Congress to increase funding for Pell Grants by $15.3 billion over the next five years. The President also proposed increasing the maximum annual Pell award to $5,400 over the next five years and making Pell Grants available year-round.

  • The legislation also helps ease the burden on our men and women in uniform who have taken out loans for a higher education. Those on active duty military will now have new flexibility to defer payments on their loans, and service members who are leaving to return to civilian life will be able to defer their loan payments for over one year after they return home.

Pell Grants Are Helping Expand Access To Higher Education

To prepare America's youth for the jobs of tomorrow, we must expand access to higher education. According to one study, 80 percent of the fastest-growing jobs in America require some sort of education after high school. To seize the opportunities of this new era, more American citizens need skills they can only get through a post-secondary education.

One of the best ways to expand access to higher education is to increase financial assistance for low-income students through the Pell Grant program. Pell Grants are the most effective way to target Federal aid to those who need it most.

The President Will Continue Working With Congress To Expand Access To Higher Education And Ensure America Remains Competitive In The Global Economy

There is more work to be done. For example, the bill signed today diverts resources that would best be used for Pell Grants to other, poorly targeted policies and new programs - and it fails to fully account for their costs. By making promises beyond what it pays for, the bill leaves to future Congresses and the next Administration the difficult choice of cutting benefits, growing the deficit, or increasing taxes. The bill also fails to resolve implementation issues the Administration raised with some of the bill's changes to the student loan programs.

  • The President will work with Congress to ensure that the increases in funding for Pell Grants not paid for in this bill are paid for with reductions in other areas of spending - not by raising taxes on the American people.

  • The Administration will closely monitor the effects of the bill's provisions to ensure they do not cause unintended consequences, increase taxpayer costs, or upset the vital competitive balance between the Federal Family Education Loan and Direct Loan programs.

  • The President will also continue working with Congress to expand access and affordability in higher education.

The President calls on Congress to reauthorize and strengthen the No Child Left Behind Act in order to maintain accountability for results and ensure that our students graduate from high school ready for college and the global economy. This week's release of the latest Nation's Report Card results showed that this good law is working. In math, scores for 4th and 8th graders were the highest they have ever been, and in reading, scores for 4th graders were also the highest on record. The Report Card also showed that some of the achievement gaps among minority students are narrowing.

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