The health care bill had some hidden goodies for students. When Obama’s health care legislation passed back in March, you may have read our take on how the changes to the health cares system would affect American students. That said, there were several measures hidden in the bill that don’t relate directly to health care, but are set to bring big changes to college campuses.
Remember that health care bill? Right, that one. Well, it included a somewhat overlooked student loan reformprovision that most American students ought to take note of.
Titled the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, it’s the largest investment the country has ever made in higher education. President Obama hopes it’ll increase the number of college graduates there are by the year 2020 by promising additional funding to some of the country’s most needed scholarship programs.
Some of the most crucial parts of the act include a $40 billion investment in the Pell Grant Program, which is a needs-based scholarship awarded to about 6 million students a year, according to the United States Student Association. This will result in a $1,000 increase per student per scholarship by the year 2019. The act also sets aside $3 billion for the College Access Challenge Grant, which funds mentoring programs, workshops and campaigns, among other things, aimed at preparing low-income students to go on to college. There will also be $2.55 billion set aside for historically black or minority colleges and universities.
And, much to the relief of FAFSA-applicants everywhere, the legislation reduces the number of questions on the FAFSA form. Sounds simple, but the USSA reports that 1.5 million students who were eligible for a grant in 2003 didn’t bother applying because of all the arduous paperwork the FAFSA requires.
Other items included in the act range from the renovation of community college campuses that are in disrepair to providing loan borrowers with better customer service.
Not only will there be more funding to go around, but the act hopes to make the process of paying back loans more pain-free by putting a decreased cap on monthly loan payments. Loans will also be forgiven after 20 years of steady payments instead of the current 25 years. Now if only Obama could make midterms and finals a little easier…