Beneficial College Cost bill should be watched closely

ReAnne Utemark

Break out the fancy paper plates, Bush has signed a bill that will make college more affordable for low-income students and, if students take out loans, they will be less burdensome after graduation.

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 both raised the maximum amount of Pell Grant money qualified students can receive and cut the interest rate for student loans. Not only are students happy but also President Bush and the leaders of the Democrats are playing nicely. This bill could turn out fantastically, but the effects of this piece of legislation and future legislation needs to be watched closely.

As a student who works, goes to school and is addicted to “The Washburn Review,” I am happy Bush is doing something to help college students like me who have big plans that involve several years of education. Without competitive students in a post-secondary education system, the United States is setting itself up for failure, both externally and internally. Externally, in order for the United States to compete in the global marketplace, education is of the utmost importance. Internally, it is vital that citizens be properly educated. Without repeating last week’s editorial, the system has to have good input before it can produce good results.

Despite the cheer for higher education from this new law, schools should maintain admission regulations and competitive scholarships. Considering the basic financial need of students is essential, but rewarding students to show their ability and potential to excel will help universities find the best students who will work hard to complete their degree while getting the most the institution has to offer. These students will be a solid investment universities. This will be positive for the academic, economic and civil realms.

Something else to consider, the fact sheet on says that the bill makes promises beyond what it pays for. As well, according to the legislation text provided by, it says it raises the $0 expected family contribution limit from $20,000 to $30,000 for dependent students. Thusly, there will be a change in regard to the amount of several Pell Grant awards. The new law also provides $60 million for various college preparatory programs in high school and middle schools. All in all, the law is going to spend a large amount of money, which is still a drop in the bucket compared to what the defense budget is for the Iraq war, but that is an editorial for another week. Congresses in the future will be required to find more funding to sustain this law. While the current policy promises no new taxes, that may be a pipe dream to support this and future education legislation endeavors.

Finally, according to the White House Web site, with the passage of this law, President Bush urged congress to “reauthorize and strengthen the No Child Left Behind Act.” While noble in its goals, NCLB has been poorly executed. Teachers are unhappy because they have experienced increased pressure to teach to the test. Students, particularly students who excel, are unhappy because they are left behind in the extraordinary effort to bring up the stragglers. Test scores are better, but how is the quality of elementary, middle and high school education? As a side note, I sincerely hope NCLB or anything resembling government-sponsored assessment tests never start to bleed onto the university via this legislation or others like it.

This bill could be a great opportunity for thousands of college students. However, it should not be a hollow hope. It should also not be a springboard for other, more oppressive policies.

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