Act will assist some, not all

The College Cost Reduction Act is only one step toward affordable education.

Last Thursday, President George W. Bush signed the College Cost Reduction Act into law after strong bipartisan agreement in both the House and the Senate. Support for the act shows Congress’ concern for the decreased attainability of higher education for many of the nation’s families. While the CCRA is a step in the right direction for assisting students in lowering their college debts, there is much more improvement needed at the state level to meet the continual rise of tuition and fees and combat the increasing number of students graduating with over $20,000 in debt.

Under the act, Pell Grants will raise from $4,300 to $5,400 over five years. While this is an improvement, the act seems to be planning to fall short in the future. University tuition for the 2007-2008 school year is set at $3,975, but with fees can reach nearly $5,000 for many students. Assuming tuition continues to increase as it has been dramatically over the past decade, in five years, when the Pell Grant amount is scheduled to reach $5,400, it will likely fall short of meeting students financial needs, forcing them to acquire additional loans.

The act also aims to reduce interest rates for subsidized student loans in half – to 3.4 percent. This will significantly reduce the monthly payment rate that many students face after they graduate. But not all students qualify to attain the federally backed subsidized student loans that the CCRA will aid. Many students do not qualify for federal assistance because of the amount of money their parents make. If they are paying for school on their own, they are often forced to use private loans that can have much higher interest rates than subsidized loans with interest rates and repayment options that are designed to aid students.

While the CCRA shows promise in aiding many students’ finances through college, there will still be many other students needing assistance. Our state politicians and University representatives must work together toward keeping the costs of education down, so that student borrowing can stop rising.