ED Announces First Open Forum on the Administration’s College Value and Affordability Plans

In August 2013, President Barack Obama announced the Administration’s plans and proposals for combating rising college costs and making college affordable for American families.  The President’s plan included three parts: paying for performance; promoting innovation and competition; and ensuring that student debt remains affordable.

As part of an effort to gather public input about these proposals, and in particular the development of a college ratings system, the Department of Education will be hosting open forums around the country.  These open forums are designed to offer the opportunity for members of the public to provide feedback and input on the Department’s plans and proposals, and to hear the input of others.

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Giving Back to Students

Today, as hardworking Americans across the country file their taxes or await their return, middle class families and students paying for college loans will find a larger refund coming their way. The American Opportunity Tax Credit alleviates up to $2,500 of federal income tax owed for individuals paying for college loans and making up to $90,000 a year or for couples making up to $180,000.

This is just one of the many ways this Administration is giving back to students. When President Obama signed into law historic healthcare legislation, he not only improved the availability and quality of health care services for thousands of uninsured and under-insured Americans, he made a tremendous investment in our nation’s students. The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 ended wasteful subsidies to banks and freed up nearly $68 billion dollars for college affordability and deficit reduction. Over the next 10 years, the Act will make important investments in higher education, help make college more affordable for hardworking Americans and give back to the American tax payer by:

  • Expanding the Pell Grant program by $36 billion.
  • Investing $2 billion in community colleges.
  • Increasing support for minority servicing institutions by $2.55 billion.
  • Investing $750 million to bolster college access for students over the next 5 years.
  • Reducing monthly payments under the Income-Based Repayment Program—capping monthly student loan payments to 10 percent of the borrower’s discretionary income. For graduates entering public service (such as teachers), remaining loans will be forgiven after 10 years.

Without this legislation, as many as eight million students could have seen their current aid cut by 50 percent. That would’ve been absolutely devastating, especially at a time of economic rebuilding when education can mean better jobs and a better future for families and the nation. By making college more accessible and affordable, we can educate our way to a better economy.

I encourage you to take full advantage of these opportunities for higher education and career training. For more information on these programs, go to http://studentaid.ed.gov and http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=211309,00.html.

Secretary Arne Duncan

Secretary Duncan Is Committed to Making It Easier for Students to Attend and Pay for College

Secretary Arne Duncan delivered opening remarks at the 2009 Federal Student Aid Conference.

Secretary Arne Duncan delivered opening remarks at the 2009 Federal Student Aid Conference.

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.

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