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"College students are graduating with deep student loan debt and borrowers are increasingly defaulting on their loans. We must make college more affordable and accessible now. In order to lower student loan debt, we need to increase grant aid—money for college that students don’t have to repay.
“We need a significant boost to the Pell grant program, the nation’s premier, need-based aid program, which provides need-based scholarship money to more than 7 million students of modest means. However, its value has been eroding since the program’s inception. When the Pell Grant program was created in 1976 it covered 72% of the average cost of attending a public four-year college, but only 32% of costs in 2008. The President’s plan strengthens Pell Grants by investing $40 billion over the next ten years to annually increase the maximum grant award. This investment is long overdue, and will make several hundred thousand more students eligible for the grants.
“The budget reconciliation bill must increase student aid to the maximum level possible. To pay for this increase, the bill will cut wasteful subsidies currently flowing to banks and lenders, and divert those funds to students.
“If student aid reform is cut from the final reconciliation package, then large banks and lenders will prevail over struggling students and their families. We urge our champions to hold firm and encourage all lawmakers concerned with keeping college affordable to support a reconciliation bill that fully funds the Pell Grant program.”
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