On Tuesday, December 1st, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan joined nearly 6,000 officials from colleges and universities at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, for the Department’s annual Federal Student Aid Conference. In a morning keynote address, Secretary Duncan outlined the Obama administration’s higher education agenda and its plans to improve college completion. The secretary emphasized the administration’s commitment to college aid and assistance programs, calling it the “biggest investment in student aid since the GI Bill,” and praised the House passage of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009. The Act authorizes up to $87 billion for student aid over the next decade, including: $40 billion for mandatory inflation indexed Pell Grants and, $10 billion to strengthen community colleges.
- Watch video of conference opening and welcome.
- See video recordings of each of the sessions held at the 2009 Federal Student Aid Conference.
The Secretary also discussed the need to eliminate “prohibitive, time consuming administrative hurdles” by streamlining the college aid application: the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); working with the IRS to electronically retrieve tax return data; and, reducing the paper work for financial aid administrators. Furthermore, the administration proposes saving Americans billions of dollars by transitioning all student loans to the Direct Loans program. “We can save $87 billion just by cutting out the banks as middle-men. We will loan money to students directly. We’ll use the savings for what’s actually important—helping students afford and succeed in college.”
Secretary Duncan closed his remarks by encouraging conference attendees to join the President at this critical moment in American history “…to ensure that our students can afford the higher education they need—and our country needs—to secure our economic future.”