State PIRGs' Higher Education Project
218 D Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 546-9707

Director:
Ivan Frishberg

Advocate:
Ellynne Bannon

 

To: Student Aid Activists
Fr: Ellynne Bannon, State PIRGs' Higher Education Project
November 6, 2001

*** Urge Congress to Support Low Cost Student Loans and to Fully Fund the $4,000 Pell Grant Maximum Award ***

Congress is considering a proposal to secure low loan costs for students. The proposal represents a consensus between students, higher education associations, and the loan industry. The proposal would maintain the current loan formula structure for several years and then switch students to a low fixed rate.

Please contact your Senators and Members of Congress and urge them to support this consensus agreement as it delivers low cost loans to students and maintains the viability of the student loan program.

This proposal comes at a time when students are not only struggling with increasing levels of debt. Almost half of all seniors graduate with more than $19,000 in debt, and over the past seven years student debt has more than doubled to $35 billion each year. In addition, nearly one-third of all low-income students work more than 35 hours per week to cover college costs.

Also:

Help to protect the new $4,000 Pell Grant maximum, as promised in both the House and Senate FY 2002 appropriations bills.

Last week we learned that thousands more Pell-eligible students than expected are attending college this year. This is good news. It means that an increasing number of poor students see a college education as possible, and thousands of Americans who have lost their jobs in the economic downturn are choosing to improve their career options by going back to school.

But it also means that the Pell Grant program is facing a $1.7 billion shortfall. To solve this problem, the administration has proposed reducing next year's planned increase in the Pell Grant maximum from $4,000 to its current level of $3,750. This is a bad approach, and one that threatens to halt the significant progress we have made in recent years to restore the buying power of the Pell Grant program.

Action:

Call your representatives today and urge them to a) support the consensus proposal to keep student loan costs low and to b) fully fund the $4,000 Pell Grant maximum award.

Call your Senators and Members of Congress by using the student aid hotline: 1 (800) 574-4AID.

Senate Switchboard: (202) 224-3121
House Switchboard: (202) 225-3121

Because of the continuing concern about anthrax contamination, members of Congress cannot receive standard mail, except in their district offices. Senators whose offices are in the closed Hart Senate Office Building have temporary fax numbers, which can be obtained by calling their state offices (listed in the blue section of the telephone book). You can also reach any office by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.