Current U.S. Bills in Congress that Affect Financial Aid
Many bills dealing with financial aid are amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965 which was apart of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society domestic plan. This act increased financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships and low-interest loans. If you’re at all interested in what members of congress are doing to influence the price you pay for education, there are many ways you can find out. The Thomas Library of Congress is a great resources for students interested in political matters. Along with applying for easy scholarships and keeping on track with your finances, delving into activities on Capital Hill is a great start in being pro-active. Stay in the loop by reading the list below:
Youth Service Scholarship Act of 2005
Bill Number: S. 1247.IS
Bill Sponsor: Mr. Dodd
The bill makes a point that:
- people under 18 are the most impoverished age group.
- single parent families are increasing in our nation making it difficult to afford college tuition.
- youth who aren’t active in community organizations are more likely to get involved with destructive tendencies like violence, drugs, alcohol, behavioral problems, unsafe promiscuous behavior and school misconduct.
The Youth Service Scholarship Act aims to encourage youth to be more engaged in their community focusing on productive outreach and positive behaviors. Statistics show that youth who participate in service-related activities are 26 percent more likely to achieve higher grades in school and less likely to engage in criminal or destructive behavior.
Students should have logged in at least 300 hours of community service for two years during high school (600 in total). For subsequent years at a college or university, the student must continue to maintain at least 300 hours of community service in order to receive the scholarship ($5,000) for the following year. Also, receiving discounted lunches via the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act and being eligible for Federal Pell Grants are apart of the eligibility requirements. Additionally, a GPA of at least 3.0 is required.
Education Tax Incentive for Teachers Act
Bill Number: H.R. 135
Bill Sponsor: Mr. Holt
In essence, the National STEM Education Tax Incentive for Teachers Act of 2011 makes an effort to inspire teachers with a tax credit to teach science, technology, engineering and math subjects at elementary and secondary schools. It’ll amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow 10% of their undergraduate tuition (up to $1,000) to be repaid to the individual. If you are teaching these subjects at schools serving disadvantaged youth, the total amount refunded will be $1,500.
SEAT Act of 2011
Bill Number: H.R. 310
Bill Sponsor: Mrs. Myrick
The Secure Education for Americans Today Act of 2011 prevents institutions who enroll illegal aliens from receiving any of the federal assistance funds available under the Higher Education Act of 1965. If an institution was found to have enrolled non U.S. citizens by the Secretary of Education, in order to receive Federal funds again they’ll need to refrain from doing so for at least a year.
College LIFE Act
Bill Number: H.R. 2535
Bill Sponsor: Ms. Jackson Lee
The College Literacy in Finance and Economics (LIFE) Act of 2011 aims to assist students with financial counseling so as to avoid extreme loads of student loan debt after college. Here are a few findings that support this bill:
- In 2008, 62 percent of college graduates with baccalaureate degrees leave with substantial amounts of debt; 1 in 10 carrying at least $40,000. And 47 percent of students enrolled in for-profit institutions default on their loans.
- Based on findings from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 56 percent of adults do not have a budget in place. And with credit cards being the preferred method of payment (56 percent of dependant students owned one), the average balance was $2,000.
- A study from the 2009 National Bankruptcy Research Center study says that individuals who received pre-bankruptcy counseling were able to keep up with their monthly payments having fewer delinquent accounts longer than those who didn’t receive the counseling.
What the Bill will Do
This bill will call for every eligible institution to provide financial literacy counseling so that students who borrow will be less likely to default on loans. Borrowers will receive Entrance Counseling which will occur 45 days after the individual receives the first loan. They’ll also receive Exit Counseling when the individual enrolled at an institution leaves. The bill explains that a person should have at least 4 hours of counseling (not more than two hours done electronically) which will cover topics like educational loans, tax credits, and scholarships. Additional information on how to manage a loan, budgeting and saving advice, types of financial institutions, using credit cards, investing, taxes and housing information will also be included.
Lifelong Learning Accounts Act of 2011
Bill Number: H.R. 1869
Bill Sponsor: Rep Larson, John B
This allows for individuals to have tax-exempt Lifelong Learning Accounts that can be used to pay for tuition, books, information technology devices needed for certain courses and various other educational expenses. These can be set up for a child or yourself with employers being given tax credits if they contribute. The balance in your Lifelong Learning Account will roll-over annually, with the most you can contribute per taxable year being $2,500.
TEACH for Our Future Act of 2011
Bill Number: H.R. 85
Bill Sponsor: Rep Baca, Joe
The Teacher Education Assistance Creating Hope (TEACH) for Our Future Act of 2011 will cause highly qualified teachers who have been employed for at least five years in schools that serve disadvantaged students to receive reduced limits to loan forgiveness. If a teacher took out a loan no earlier than October 1, 1998, serves disadvantaged youth, is not in default on the loan they wish forgiveness and meets other requirements, then up to $25,000 outstanding from a Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) and Direct Loan (DL) will be forgiven. For private teachers of primary and secondary schools, the current standards for loan forgiveness applies.
Spouses of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act
Bill Number: H.R. 2550
Bill Sponsor: Rep Boren, Dan
This act makes it possible for a spouse or a designated dependent to receive educational assistance entitled to a member of the armed forces if the person died as a result of his service in the military. The amount entitled to the member of the armed forces on the day he or she died will be the amount entitled to the surviving spouse or designated dependant. The effective date, once passed, will be on August 1, 2009. Retroactive payments will be given to individuals if applicable. This act amends section 3319 of title 38 in the United States Code.
Medical Education Development Act of 2011
Bill Number: S. 1481
Bill Sponsor: Sen Casey, Robert P., Jr.
This will allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to set up funds that will help build infrastructure, increase faculty, develop residencies, and, most important, distribute scholarships in newly accredited allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. Priority will be given to schools who maintain competitive faculty-to-student ratios, admit larger classes and are transparent in how they manage the funds received.
Make College Affordable Act of 2011
Bill Number: H.R. 953
Bill Sponsor: Rep Paul, Ron
This act will ease the tax burden for individuals paying higher educational expenses for themselves or a dependant thereby making college more affordable. There will be given a tax deduction for educational expenses like tuition and fees, living expenses as well as any interest paid on qualified education loans. Scholarships received or veteran benefits will reduce the amount deducted for taxes.