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Rep. Courtney Statement Upon Introduction of bill to Overhaul Higher Education, the College Affordability Act

October 15, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), a senior member of the House Committee on Education & Labor, applauded the introduction the College Affordability Act, a bill to improve accountability, accessibility, and affordability in higher education. The College Affordability Act contains provisions that Rep. Courtney has championed in his role as a member of the House Education & Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education & Workforce Innovation, including efforts to make college more affordable by allowing for student borrowers to refinance their loans down to today’s lower rates;  to protect veterans and their families against the predatory practices of for-profit colleges; to better manage the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and expand it to include farmers; to help Connecticut students who were defrauded by Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute; and more.

“The College Affordability Act is a roadmap for how the federal government can better invest in our higher education system, which builds on the successes of existing programs while creating new, innovative approaches to higher education that align with changing demographics and industry demands,” Courtney said. “This bill will save Americans money while creating new opportunities for individuals to access higher education programming that they previously may not have been able to afford.”

The College Affordability Act will:

Invest 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

Improve 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)

Hold 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.