PRINCESS ANNE —
U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, D-MD, today met with students and faculty at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore (UMES) to discuss recent Senate passage of legislation to increase student aid and to reform the student loan industry.
The Senator praised the $17 billion
Higher Education Access Act
, telling students that it is the largest increase in college financial aid since the GI Bill in 1944.
He also told students that it could result in an increase in Pell Grants by almost $1,000 a year by 2011, “making it possible for more students to realize the American Dream of attending college.”
Senator Cardin also said that the Senate passed the
Higher Education Amendments,
which contains major reforms in the student loan system “so that it works for students, not lenders.” In addition to cleaning up the student loan industry by prohibiting gifts from lenders to schools or school officials, the bill also would make it easier for students to access financial aid by reforming the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA) form and requiring schools and lenders to provide students with more accessible financial information.
“Growing barriers to higher education have a profound effect on our nation and often affect the most basic life choices of college students,” Senator Cardin told the students.
“Too often college graduates cannot pursue jobs in the public sector because they pay less than private-sector jobs and too many college graduates are financially strapped with large debt.”
Twenty years ago, the Senator told the students, the maximum Pell Grant covered 55% of costs at a public four-year college.
Today it covers less than a third of those costs.
He also pointed out that new college graduates average more than $19,000 in student loan debt.
“We need to reverse those disturbing statistics and make college more accessible to more Americans so we can compete in the global marketplace.”
“We appreciate the opportunity that Senator Cardin has extended to our students to engage in meaningful dialogue about Federal Financial Aid issues,” said UMES President Dr. Thelma B. Thompson. “Over 90 percent of our students qualify for federal financial aid, and have a vested interest in this national debate.”