Schumer backs “historic” bill aimed helping college students

WASHINGTON – Both sides of the aisle in Washington are calling a recently passed higher education bill the most significant advancement toward making college more affordable since the enactment of the G.I. Bill over 60 years ago.

It could save students in the Southern Tier a few thousand dollars a year, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) claims.

Raising federal grant awards and cutting student loan interest rates in half over the next five years, the “College Cost Reduction and Access Bill” is “a historic turning point,” said Schumer in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

“It’s a major change,” he said. “This bill is more important than 98 percent of what we do on the floor in the House and Senate.”

The bill raises maximum federal Pell Grant award from $4,050 to $5,400 and reduces Stafford loan interest rates from 6.8 to 3.4 percent by 2012, two programs that generally benefit lower and middle class students. In total, the package should cost roughly $20 billion – a bill to be footed entirely by the private lending companies that Schumer claims have been living high on the hog for too long.

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