Washington, D.C.—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada hailed the Senate passage of the bipartisan Higher Education Access Act. The Act will help Nevadans and people across the country by increasing grant aid to low-and middle-income students, increasing the number of students automatically eligible for the maximum Pell Grant, decreasing the work penalty for students who work and receive financial aid, making loan repayment more manageable for borrowers with significant loan debt, and forgiving the debt of those who commit to public service.
“It is important that we do everything we can to make higher education affordable for more Nevadans and people across the country. The Higher Education Access Act increases grant aid and college access for students and makes the student loan system work for students, not the banks.
“As tuition costs outpace inflation and income, more and more working Americans are priced out of the promise of a college education – an increasingly important key to success in today’s global economy. But in passing this bipartisan bill, the Senate is sending the President an opportunity to provide $17 billion in additional college aid to students – the largest increase since the G.I. bill. There are few things more important to our nation’s future than opening the door to a college education for millions of students and unlocking all the opportunity it affords.”
Currently in Nevada, the average college graduate has almost $17,000 in student loan debt. Here are some examples of how the bill, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support (78-18), will specifically help Nevadans:
- Low- and middle-income Nevada students will be eligible for an additional $7,700,000 in need-based grant aid next year, and an additional $66,100,000 over the next five years. This will increase the average Pell Grant in Nevada by $420 in 2008 to $2,800.
- A social worker with one child in Nevada earning $44,520, with average student loan debt of $16,687, will have his or her monthly payments reduced by $43, from $192 to $149, a reduction of 23%.
- A starting teacher in Nevada earning $27,957 with the state average loan debt of $16,687 could have loan payments capped at 15% – reducing his/her monthly payments by $70, from $192 to $122, a reduction of 36%.