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Rep. Courtney, House Education & Labor Committee Vote to Approve the College Affordability Act

October 31, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) and his colleagues on the House Education and Labor Committee voted to approve the College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674) during a three-day legislative markup session. The College Affordability Act (CAA) takes steps to tackle the rising cost of post-secondary education, to address the student loan debt crisis, streamline the repayment process for student borrowers, and to expand repayment programs.

The CAA also includes several provisions that Rep. Courtney has worked to advance. For example, the bill will help ease student debt by allowing for current borrowers to refinance their loans down to today’s more competitive market rates – exactly what was prescribed in Rep. Courtney’s Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act (HR 1707). The bill would also take steps improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) by establishing a much-needed oversight and appeals process at the Dept. of Education, and would expand the PSLF program to include farmers. That’s exactly what was proposed in Rep. Courtney’s bipartisan bill, the Young Farmers Success Act (HR 3232).

“The CAA is comprehensive approach to what is a top-line issue for millions of young Americans and middle-class families across the country,” said Congressman Courtney. "Congress was given a clear mandate in the 2018 election to address the rising cost of post-secondary education, and to help students find ways to pay off their loans more quickly and efficiently. Our bill helps make student loans cheaper to take out, simpler to understand, and easier to pay off – it also includes my bill to allow students to refinance their loans in the same way that middle-class families refinance their home mortgages, and to give our young farmers a boost by making them eligible for the PSLF program. The CAA is also good for our servicemembers, veterans, and their families – it extends PSLF eligibility to more of our National Veterans Service Organizations, and it includes provisions to strengthen protections of G.I. bill benefits against flimsy, predatory, for-profit higher education institutions.

“The benefits of making post-secondary education more affordable aren’t just limited to students – our entire economy will benefit from a more qualified workforce that isn’t saddled with crushing amounts of student debt. I was glad to vote to approve the College Affordability Act during today’s markup, and I look forward to voting in favor of the bill when it comes for a vote before the full House of Representatives.”

Click here for Rep. Courtney's full remarks on the importance of the College Affordability Act

More information on the College Affordability Act: 

Invests in Higher Education to Lower Costs for all Americans:

  • Creates a federal-state partnership program, which provides significant federal funding to states that opt-in by investing in debt-free community college programs
  • Boosts the value of Pell Grants and other federal student aid programs to cover more tuition costs, which in turn helps lower-income students with food and housing costs
  • Allows Pell Grants to be used for short-term certificate programs while also providing those borrowers pathways to 2-year and 4-year degrees if desired
  • Expands already-tested models of dual enrollment and early college high school, which allows students to start earning free college credits before college enrollment

Improves Federal Student Aid Services:

  • Eliminates hidden origination fees on student loans, which can be as high as 4.26%
  • Streamlines repayment options for federal student loans by establishing only one fixed repayment plan and one income-based repayment plan that offers more generous terms for low- and middle-income borrowers 
  • Simplifies the FAFSA application process for prospective students 
  • Allows current borrowers to refinance their loans down to today’s lower student loan rates, as proposed in Courtney’s Bank on Student Emergency Loan Refinancing Act (H.R. 1707
  • Updates the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program through new oversight and appeals processes established at the Department of Education, and expands the program to additional Veterans’ Service Organizations and farmers, as proposed through Courtney’s Young Farmer Success Act (H.R. 3232

Holds Schools and the Department of Education Accountable: 

  • Protects veterans from predatory for-profit schools by eliminating the 90-10 loophole 
  • Maintains consumer protections to help defrauded students recoup federal student aid dollars lost to low-quality programs 
  • Blocks access to taxpayer dollars for schools that are responsible for large numbers of student loan defaults while spending exorbitant amounts of money on advertising and lobbying 

The Higher Education Act was first enacted in 1965 as the federal government began its commitment to federal higher education investment programs. Congressman Courtney also helped draft the last comprehensive HEA reauthorization, the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which was enacted on August 14, 2008.