FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 2007
McKeon-Sponsored Bill Would Help Hundreds of Students
Officials at College of the Canyons reacted with appreciation upon hearing that U.S. Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-California) introduced a bill in Congress Tuesday to help California community college students get their fair share of federal financial aid grants.
McKeon, senior Republican and prior chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, and current committee chair George Miller, Democrat, introduced H.R. 990, the Pell Grant Equity Act, a bipartisan bill that will repeal the "tuition sensitivity" provision in federal law.
The tuition sensitivity provision in federal law reduces the annual maximum Pell Grant award for students attending institutions with very low tuition charges, and this new bill would allow students attending California community colleges to receive the full Pell Grant entitlement even though tuition is very low.
"This is great news for our students," said Superintendent-President Dr. Dianne Van Hook. "We had asked Buck to help us do away with this unfair law, and once again he has assisted us by sponsoring legislation to help our students. We are very grateful for his support. He has been and continues to be an advocate for California community college students. He has passion for what we do and turns that into action."
"Students should not be forced to sacrifice grant aid because of their choice of one institution over another," said McKeon, who added: "As Congress and the President work to continue improving student aid programs, it's illogical that certain students who may otherwise be eligible for a maximum Pell Grant won't get it simply because of where they go to school. Moreover, repealing this rule takes away an incentive for some low-cost institutions to raise their tuition in order for their students to become eligible for the maximum Pell award."
"Potentially 1,315 College of the Canyons students could be helped by the new legislation if it passes congress and is signed into law," said Tom Bilbruck, COC's Director of Financial Aid. "Many of our students are trying to get their education but face huge financial hurdles. While our tuition is low, at $20 per unit, even the cost of books is beyond the reach of many students."
Currently, approximately 260,000 California community college students, already among the lowest income and most disadvantaged, face reductions of their Pell grant award payments (by as much as $112) in 2007 as a result of the recent drop in state fees to $20 per unit. Because these are the lowest fees in the nation, California students are the only ones negatively impacted by the "tuition sensitivity" provision.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, (D-California) has offered to sponsor similar legislation in the Senate.