(Senate - September 07, 2007)

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[Pages S11241-S11263]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
Senate will resume consideration of the conference report to accompany 
H.R. 2669, which the clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       Conference report to accompany H.R. 2669, an act to provide 
     for reconciliation pursuant to section 601 of the concurrent 
     resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2008.

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, there is 
75 minutes of debate remaining on the conference report, with the time 
equally divided between the chairman and the ranking member.
  Who yields time?
  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the time 
under the quorum be equally divided.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, as I understand from the previous 
agreement, we have approximately an hour, probably an hour and 12 
minutes, that will be equally divided prior to the time of a vote on 
what has been labeled the College Cost Reduction and Access Act; am I 
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator is correct.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I yield myself 5 minutes.
  Mr. President, first of all, I want to express appreciation to my 
friend and

[[Page S11242]]

colleague from Wyoming, Senator Enzi, and to thank all of the members 
of our committee for the work they have done on this legislation. This 
truly is a bipartisan piece of legislation that is focused on improving 
opportunity and improving quality of life for millions of Americans in 
our education system.
  We worked very closely together when Senator Enzi was chair, and we 
have worked very closely together since I have had the opportunity to 
chair the committee. And now we have this legislation which is going to 
make an enormous difference for so many. I will discuss it in detail 
after the vote and explain it in greater detail in the record for both 
our colleagues and others who are interested in this legislation and 
what we have accomplished. But at the outset, I think all of us on this 
side of the aisle know that without strong cooperation and assistance 
from Senator Enzi and both sides of the aisle, we wouldn't be where we 
are today with this legislation, and we would not have successfully 
passed the reauthorization legislation in the Senate that has a number 
of very important items in it. I will describe those later on in the 
day as well.
  We are also very grateful to the staffs of our committee, who have 
done a really extraordinary job during this period of time.
  Mr. President, education is the engine of hope and opportunity for 
people of this country, and it has been recognized as such from the 
earliest days of the Republic. In my State of Massachusetts, our State 
constitution, written by John Adams in 1780, spells out in great detail 
the responsibilities of our State, of our commonwealth, to try to make 
a commitment to educational opportunities for the people of our State. 
And it has been replicated, that language or something similar has been 
replicated in all of the State constitutions.
  Education is really the key. We have seen the progress and the 
changes that have taken place over the period of years, and we will 
have a chance to review that history a little later in the morning. But 
I am mindful today that establishing a benchmark is important in 
recognizing that this assistance to students and to families is the 
greatest assistance that will have been provided for the American 
family since the GI bill, the GI bill that was so successful at the end 
of World War II.
  It has been estimated that for every dollar that was invested in the 
GI bill, $7 was returned in taxes to the General Treasury. Historians 
will point out that it helped establish the middle class, the middle 
class which has been the strength of our Nation over the last 60 or 70 
years. There is no question about it. We built the middle class on the 
pillars of education, on the pillars of educational opportunity.
  In this legislation, we invest $20 billion--$20 billion--and not a 
nickel of it comes as an additional burden on taxpayers. It comes from 
the lenders. They will be able to continue to provide opportunities for 
students through their lending agencies, and this $20 billion will 
provide direct assistance to the neediest children in this country. It 
will provide help and relief for families that have real debt in terms 
of interest rates.
  Most interestingly, Mr. President, is the fact that it will encourage 
young people in this country to involve themselves in public service 
and public life through their communities. None of us can visit schools 
and colleges across the country and not be overwhelmingly impressed by 
the desire of young people to make a difference in helping to solve the 
problems and the challenges we are facing today.
  We can look as recently as this week at the cover of Time magazine 
outlining this tremendous surge of young people wanting to participate 
in solving problems in their communities in a variety of different 
  We have understood that, Mr. President, and we are saying to those 
young people: Yes, we know the cost of education has gone up. Yes, we 
know we have not kept pace in providing assistance to you to keep up 
with the cost of education. Yes, we understand your parents have been 
working hard, and still the middle class has been holding on by its 
teeth in terms of battling the problems of inflation and no wage 
increases. Yes, it has been more challenging for middle-class families 
to go on to college. And, yes, if they go on to school they will end up 
with a great deal of debt, which means they will not be able to go into 
the kinds of fields of service, service to the community, that they 
might like to. But that is going to change, and change dramatically, 
with this legislation.
  There are many different provisions in the legislation, and we will 
come to grips with those as the morning goes on, but this is saying to 
the young people: If you finish up in school and college and you have 
debt and you want to become a schoolteacher, you want to work in the 
criminal justice system, you want to work with special needs children, 
you want to work for a nonprofit, you will never pay more than 15 
percent of your income in repayment of your debt. And after a period of 
years, a 10-year period of time, your debt will be forgiven in full--
  This is an incentive for young people to be able to go into public 
service and serve their community. I think it is enormously important 
and responsive to the time. I will have a chance later to go through 
this legislation in greater detail, but this is a matter of enormous 
importance. It is a matter of enormous consequence. It reflects the 
best judgment of those on this Education Committee who have worked long 
and hard on this legislation.
  We are grateful for the fact the President has indicated that he is 
going to support this legislation. At a time of great divisiveness on 
so many things, we have taken an issue of fundamental importance to 
families in this country and we are saying: Help is on its way. That is 
effectively what this legislation will do. We will spend a good deal of 
the morning going over the details of it and how those general concepts 
I have outlined this morning will be implemented in the form of the 
  Mr. President, I reserve the remainder of my time.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The senior Senator from Wyoming.
  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I yield myself whatever time I take, and I 
do rise to speak in support of the conference report under 
consideration today.
  I thank the Senator from Massachusetts and his staff for their 
participation and the way they kept us informed during the conference. 
I have to say ``kept informed'' because we were not at the conference, 
except for the one kind of superficial meeting we had where we got to 
make speeches, but they did a good job of keeping us informed. This 
seems to be the way that reconciliation happens. I know when the 
Republicans were in the majority that is the way it happened, so I am 
not surprised that when the Democrats are in the majority that is the 
way it happened. But it was very helpful to be kept informed on what 
was happening.
  There are quite a few things that the reconciliation bill does, but I 
have to mention that without the reauthorization package it is very 
incomplete. We are urging the House to hurry and do the reauthorization 
part so that we truly have a higher education package. Without that, 
there are a lot of things that are left out, and I will go into that a 
little bit this morning in more detail following the vote.
  This isn't the first time we have reduced the subsidies to lenders 
and provided greater benefits to students. Two years ago, in the 
conference that I was referring to, we produced a report that found 
billions in savings by further reducing subsidies to lenders and 
applied those savings to increased grants for low-income students, 
expanded loan forgiveness, and reduced interest rates on undergraduate 
subsidized loans.
  We all agree if there is an excess subsidy in the student loan 
program, it should be eliminated. The key question is how much excess 
there is and how to eliminate it. There are no clear-cut answers to 
these questions. One approach included in this conference report is the 
reduction of the special allowance payments to the lenders.
  I am pleased that we retained the provisions that recognize the 
unique role that our not-for-profit lenders have in providing 
information and services to students and their families. Not-for-profit 
lenders focus on communities and they serve students locally. For this 
reason, we maintained the 15-basis-point differential cut in the 
special allowance payments between for-profit and not-for-profit 
lenders. The

[[Page S11243]]

cut in the special allowance payments to for-profit lenders is 55 basis 
points, and for not-for-profit lenders it is 40 basis points.
  Now, we took a first step in this conference report toward refining 
the way those levels are determined by including an auction pilot that 
lets the marketplace determine the appropriate level for the Parent 
PLUS Program, which is about 10 percent of the loans.
  This conference report provides additional need-based grant aid which 
is a critical component of increasing access to and the affordability 
of college. Over 55 percent of the savings are dedicated to increasing 
the Pell grant award. In the next 5 years, low-income undergraduate 
students will see the maximum Pell grant award increased by more than 
$1,000. Additionally, we increase the income protection allowance so 
that students are not penalized for working and saving for college, and 
we raise the income threshold for automatic eligibility for a maximum 
Pell grant.
  I am also pleased we were able to retain the guarantee rate on 
student loans at 97 percent for all lenders through fiscal year 2012. 
In this way we avoid the disruption in the student loan market and 
ensure that students have access to Federal student loans. However, I 
wonder if we may be going too far in cutting the support for the 
largest Federal financial aid program, the Federal Family Education 
Loan Program. The challenge we face is that we will not know until it 
is too late whether cuts we have made have undermined the stability of 
the program and created hardships for the students it serves.
  Despite the emphasis on increased grant aid, the claim of increased 
savings for borrowers has a hollow ring. Reducing student loan interest 
rates is a good sound bite. It doesn't do anything to help students pay 
tuition bills.
  Further, in reality, cutting the interest rate in half, to 3.4 
percent, will help only a small group of borrowers for the loans they 
take out for 1 year of their education, 4 years from now. Then the 
benefit disappears. That is going to be a surprise to a lot of people, 
and it has already happened once. We were chastised when we were doing 
the last reconciliation for a raise in the interest rates. That is 
because the interest rate that had been lowered expired and there was 
not the money to do the further cut. This may well happen again.
  A quick calculation of the real benefit borrowers will receive shows 
that at a cost of $6 billion to taxpayers, individuals, will see a 
savings of only $6 a month. That may be one latte; it may be two 
lattes. It is kind of hard to tell in today's market in coffee. I am 
astounded. I remember the days when it was a nickel a cup. I would much 
rather see the $6 billion go to help real low-income students through a 
Pell grant increase than just for a hollow sound bite.
  Finally, as an accountant and member of the Budget Committee, I would 
be remiss if I didn't point out that we are debating a conference 
report on reconciliation, and that is a process designed to reduce the 
Federal deficit, not to create new mandatory programs and increase 
entitlement spending. I am disappointed to say that the net savings for 
deficit reduction in this conference report is only $750 million.
  I wish to remind my colleagues that a few weeks ago, we considered 
reconciliation and higher education reauthorization together. The 
Senate did it right. We voted on reconciliation one day, and the next 
voting day we had, we covered reauthorization. Both bills passed with 
strong bipartisan support because we not only achieved savings but we 
ensured the quality and effectiveness of our Federal student aid 
programs. Therefore, my support for this conference report is limited 
by the fact that we are not also considering the larger higher 
education reauthorization package.
  We have used this chart before when we were debating the 
reauthorization. This chart shows the pieces that are left out when we 
do not do the reauthorization. I urge the House to finish up this part 
of the package so that it can accompany the reconciliation package. It 
is not complete without both.
  I do have some comments by House Ranking Member McKeon, which is an 
excerpt from the conference committee when it was held. I ask unanimous 
consent to have it printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

 House Ranking Member McKeon Excerpt Comments From the One Conference 
                             Committee Held

       Nearly 6 months ago, the Budget Committee offered a budget 
     resolution that called for a lone, $75 million budget 
     reconciliation instruction to the Education and Labor 
     Committee. Eventually that figure climbed to $750 million in 
     required savings over 5 years--a modest improvement, but 
     still a mere fraction of the savings generally achieved 
     through budget reconciliation.
       It was as clear 6 months ago as it is today that the reason 
     for that instruction was not to reduce the federal deficit. 
     It was to push through a series of changes to our Nation's 
     college financial aid system--changes that may or may not 
     have been able to garner the necessary votes outside the 
     confines of a budget bill.
       Many of these changes are needed. Republicans took the lead 
     on making the student loan program more efficient two years 
     ago, producing a full $12 billion in deficit reduction while 
     increasing benefits to students. I appreciate the efforts 
     this year to build on that success by demanding additional 
     program efficiencies and redirecting those resources into the 
     Pell Grant program. A straightforward reform effort focused 
     solely on these two goals would surely have garnered broad 
     bipartisan support.
       While I believe the intentions of the bill's sponsors are 
     good, I have found the process and the product to be 
     disappointing. When the FY 2008 budget resolution was being 
     debated, the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee 
     cautioned that the budget reconciliation process was in 
     danger of being abused as a ``stalking horse'' for new 
     entitlement spending. Yet despite his warnings, that is 
     exactly what happened in the bill.
       That bill represented one of the largest expansions of 
     higher education entitlement spending in history, with the 
     creation of nine new entitlement programs. I understand the 
     majority is considering paring back the new entitlement 
     spending and creating fewer new programs. While this is a 
     modest improvement, it still represents a diversion of 
     approximately $1 billion that could have, and dare I say 
     should have, gone to low-income students in the form of 
     Pell Grants.
       The legislation that passed the House also included a 
     temporary phase-down of the interest rates on subsidized 
     Stafford loans. The Senate-approved bill did not include such 
     a proposal, instead focusing its resources on the Pell Grant 
     program. The conference report includes some form of the 
     House interest rate proposal. This, despite the fact that 
     temporarily reducing interest rates on some loans for some 
     college graduates is a costly diversion from Pell Grants, and 
     does nothing to assist students enrolled in school and 
     struggling with rising costs. Any proposal to slowly phase-
     down the interest rate only to have the rate immediately jump 
     back up is nothing more than false promises to borrowers and 
       First, under this proposal, it will be impossible for a 
     borrower to save the highly-touted $4,400. In order to save 
     that amount, a borrower would have to take out loans all 4 
     years at the reduced rate of 3.4%--an impossibility. Second, 
     this proposal is also a false promise to taxpayers and a 
     budget gimmick. If Congress decides to maintain the 3.4% 
     interest rate, the taxpayer will be on the hook for a 
     potential long-term cost of $32 billion. Finally, this 
     proposal does nothing to help students pay for their 
     education when the tuition bill is due. While I understand 
     that this idea may test well in polls and may well make for 
     good politics, it's bad policy. And everyone here knows it.
       I understand the conference report is to include cuts to 
     the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) similar in 
     magnitude to those proposed in both the House and Senate 
     Democratic plans. These figures are based largely on the 
     President's budget request for the upcoming fiscal year. 
     However, I remain concerned that both chambers--following the 
     lead of the President--may be going too far in cutting 
     support for the largest federal financial aid program.
       The challenge is that we will not know if we have cut too 
     deeply until it is too late, and the program and its students 
     suffer. Moreover, such deep program cuts could undermine the 
     stability of the FFELP and upset the delicate balance between 
     it and the government-run Direct Loan program. While I do not 
     dispute that reforms to the student loan program are urgently 
     needed, I am strongly opposed to any effort to give a leg-up 
     to the bureaucratic Direct Loan program in an effort to 
     squeeze out the private sector.
       There are elements of the expected conference agreement 
     that I strongly support. I am particularly pleased that those 
     involved in the negotiations recognized the importance of 
     focusing on Pell Grants. I understand the agreement may 
     provide up to $11 billion in increased support for this 
     critical program. This level falls short of the approximately 
     $15 billion proposed by the President in his budget, but 
     it is a great improvement over the legislation approved by 
     the House in July.
       There was a proposal to reduce subsidies in the student 
     loan program and redirect those resources to help low-income 
     students through increased Pell Grants. Period.
       I believe that if such an approach were embraced here 
     today, it would receive overwhelming bipartisan support in 
     both the

[[Page S11244]]

     House and Senate, and would be welcomed by the President. 
     This could be a missed opportunity of epic proportions.
       Although I continue to harbor serious concerns about the 
     proposals before us, I would be remiss if I did not thank 
     Chairmen Miller and Kennedy for their efforts, and 
     acknowledge their commitment to much-needed reform. I said 
     earlier--and I truly believe this to be true--that the 
     intentions driving this process are good and worthy. While I 
     remain disappointed that key opportunities may be missed, I 
     recognize that legislation is rarely perfect and the best 
     efforts of the sponsors should be commended.

  Mr. ENZI. It puts the emphasis on some things that will be left out 
if we do not do it and also some things that I mentioned.
  I want to add some more emphasis to what is not before us today, and 
that is the legislation that addresses the concerns about rooting out 
the bad actors in student lending. It doesn't include protecting 
students and families who are borrowing money for college, and ensuring 
that students and parents receive sound, honest advice about their 
student loans. Students and parents must have access to the information 
they need to understand and manage their debt. We must ensure that the 
investment our students and families make in terms of time and money is 
a good one, that they are confident there will be financial aid to 
assist continued access to a college education.
  Further, it is the reauthorization bill that contains the evaluation 
of the auction pilot that will help determine whether the auction model 
should be used in the future to establish viable special allowance 
rates. That is the way to test it.
  Higher education is the onramp to success in the global economy, and 
it is our responsibility to make sure everyone can access that 
opportunity and reach their goals. The choice of whether to pursue a 
postsecondary education is no longer an option. We need to make sure 
individuals have all the tools they need to understand and shape their 
future. This conference report provides some important tools but not 
nearly enough to complete the job.
  We are only seeing a fraction of the higher education picture by 
considering the conference report separately from the larger 
reauthorization package. What is before us today focuses only on a 
narrow slice of the Higher Education Act, one piece which is dependent 
on other foundational programs that are not part of the reconciliation. 
You can see that on this chart: Reconciliation takes care of a little 
bit; reauthorization takes care of the rest.
  It takes important steps to increase assistance for students seeking 
a college degree, but it is only a Band-Aid without the important 
bipartisan reforms included in the reauthorization bill. We are cutting 
the bottom line without dealing with the quality and substance of these 
important programs.
  The American success story of higher education is at risk of losing 
the very qualities that made it great--competition, innovation, and 
access for all. Our challenge is to make higher education more 
accessible, affordable, and accountable. By considering only 
reconciliation, we are not meeting this challenge head-on. We are 
leaving the job undone.
  But we need the provisions in the reauthorization bill--better 
college cost information to help parents and students make sound 
choices; year-round Pell to reduce time-to-degree; and FAFSA, which is 
the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is a document that has 
been rather intimidating to students as they think about filling out 
this form in order to qualify for financial aid. The form itself has 
kept people from applying. We have reduced that in the reauthorization 
bill to a one-page document.
  I reiterate, it is the reauthorization bill that contains all the 
reforms and accountability provisions to address the problems that have 
come to light in the loan programs--the bad actors with conflicts of 
interest, the lack of useful, necessary information to enable borrowers 
to make informed decisions about loan provisions and repayment, and the 
need for better controls over access to the National Student Loan Data 
System so borrowers' privacy is protected.
  We know America's ability to compete in a global economy depends on 
increasing the number of students entering and completing college. But 
of the 75 percent of high school seniors who continue their study, only 
50 percent of them receive a degree in 5 years after enrolling in 
college and only 25 percent of them receive a bachelor's degree or 
higher. These numbers are even worse for students from low-income 
families. It is important to ensure that more students enroll in 
college prepared to learn and that more students have the support they 
need to complete college with the knowledge and skills to be 
successful. Low-income students who are striving to attend college need 
to know there is financial aid available for them to access college or 
career and technical education. It is the reauthorization bill that has 
all the support programs for first-generation and low-income students 
and the institutional support programs for minority-serving 
  For years, institutions of higher education and employers have 
expressed their dissatisfaction about the fact that our high school 
graduates need remedial help in order to do college-level work or to 
participate in the workforce. Nearly one-third of entering college 
freshmen take at least one remedial course. Each year, taxpayers pay an 
estimate $1 billion to $2 billion to provide remedial education to 
students at our public universities and community colleges.
  What will help this situation? Not only do students need better 
guidance selecting courses in high school that will enable them to 
succeed in the postsecondary education, they need better prepared 
teachers. It is the reauthorization bill that has the partnership 
programs to support teacher preparation so that all children have 
qualified teachers to guide their learning experiences. Also, to be 
competitive in the global economy we need to be able to communicate 
with people all over the world. It is the reauthorization bill that 
authorizes the programs that support foreign languages and 
international education.
  I began my remarks by stating that I am in support of the conference 
report. It is clear that I am equally committed to seeing that we 
reauthorize the Higher Education Act. We need both pieces to get it 
done right.
  I thank Senator Kennedy for his commitment to moving the 
reauthorization forward and including several Republican priorities in 
this conference report. While this report is not perfect, taken as a 
whole and with its emphasis on providing additional need-based grant 
aid to low-income students, I believe we have reached a reasonable 
approach to helping students pay for college.
  I thank everyone who has been involved in the process.
  I yield the floor and reserve the remainder of my time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Kennedy). The Senator from Ohio is yielded 
5 minutes.
  Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, I thank Chairman Kennedy, the Presiding 
Officer now, and Ranking Member Enzi, William Jawando on my staff--the 
committee's Ohio staff and all of the HELP Committee for their 
excellent work on this legislation. This bill, of course, as we know, 
invests in higher education. The returns on that investment will not 
only accrue to students and to the education system that serves them 
but will accrue to the stability, prosperity, and security of our 
Nation as a whole.
  We know the problem. We know what has happened in the last many years 
to higher education in this country. Particularly in the last 5 or 6 
years in my home State of Ohio, the cost of attendance at 4-year public 
institutions has increased 53 percent. In 2001, if you graduated from 
college versus going 4 years in 2007, you are paying almost half again, 
this year, in this 4-year period, than the 4-year period half a decade 
earlier. It has gone up almost 30 percent in the last 5 or 6 years at 
4-year private institutions. At the same time, the median household 
income in my State has increased only 3 percent. So as college costs 
have gone up 30 percent if you go to private schools, 50 percent if you 
go to a public 4-year university, the average income in Ohio has gone 
up only 3 percent. You can see the gap.
  The Federal Government has not been able to fill that gap. Pell 
grants haven't been raised for years until this legislation. The 
interest rates have continued to go up. Federal loans have

[[Page S11245]]

not kept pace, neither FFELP nor the Direct Loan Program, so the chasm 
has grown in terms of the kind of money working-class kids and poor 
kids and middle-class kids need to go to college.
  In the 2004-2005 school year, 66 percent of students graduating from 
4-year institutions in my State of Ohio graduated with student loan 
debt, and that debt was an average of $20,000. So two-thirds of Ohio 
students graduating are burdened with an average of $20,000 in student 
loan debt. That makes a big difference in career choice. That means 
they sometimes cannot take the kind of job they trained for, that they 
most want, because it doesn't pay the bills as well as another job 
  A generation ago, it was very different. As Senator Kennedy and I 
have talked, I told him my wife a generation ago graduated from Kent 
State University, a working-class kid, the first one in her family to 
go to college. Her father carried a union card at Cleveland Electric 
Illuminating Company for 36 years as a utility worker, but she was able 
to graduate from Kent State, getting a bachelor's degree in journalism 
with grants, loans, and very little debt when she graduated so she 
could pursue the kind of opportunities she had chosen to.
  Looking from 30 years ago to today and the difficulties that the 
middle-class and working-class and poor kids face going to college, 
that is why this bill matters, the dramatic increase in Pell grants, 
the lowering of interest rates, the loan forgiveness which Senator 
Kennedy has talked about at length--what that means is assistance for 
teachers and nurses and all kinds of public servants to serve the 
  This seems to be a generation of idealism, and we will see those 
students be able to pursue a career in public service and be able to 
take those jobs, sometimes--often--at lower pay, but be able to relieve 
themselves of the huge burden of debt they face. That is why this bill 
matters so much.
  This bill is a major step. We know we have more work to do.
  Senator Enzi has said several times that we have got to pass the 
other legislation with the reauthorization. He is right about that. We 
all agree with that. That will help on some issues such as simplifying 
the loan form for those prospective students filling out their 
applications for student loans and for grants.
  We also know this growth in the cost of college, as I said earlier, 
the cost in State universities in Ohio has gone up 50 percent, wages 
have gone up for an average family only 3 percent in this decade. The 
Federal Government has not kept up. That means an awful lot more 
students have turned to the private loan system and have had to face 
interest rates of 10, 12, 15, sometimes as high as 18 percent. They 
graduate from college, private or public, with a huge, even larger 
burden because of those high interest rates. We need to address that in 
the future as the private loan system has grown more and more and more.
  I close by thanking the entire committee, Senator Kennedy, Senator 
Enzi, for taking up this extremely important legislation. All students 
should be able to afford college in this country. This bill is a step, 
a major step in that direction. I thank all the fellow Senators who 
have been so involved in this issue.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Jersey is recognized for 
5 minutes.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I rise in support, strong support, of 
the higher education reconciliation conference report before us. The 
bill represents a remarkable achievement this body, and this Congress, 
should be proud of. The billions of grant aid in this bill will make a 
tremendous difference for students across the Nation, students who are 
struggling to stay afloat because of the cost of college, students who 
are saving every last penny in the hopes they can achieve their dreams 
of college.
  The passage of this bill will make a change in the tide in Congress. 
It proves to students that when we say we will work to make college 
more affordable, we mean it. This bill shows them that when we say we 
understand the obstacles they face to finance a college education, we 
are not throwing words around.
  This bill will confirm that when we say student loans should work for 
students, we mean it. This Democratically led Congress laid out strong 
principles for how we should improve access to a college education. 
With this piece of landmark legislation, we are putting those 
principles into action. This bill is no small feat. Not since the 
passage of the GI bill has a piece of education legislation made this 
big of an investment in students' aid.
  Now, this historic moment could not have been possible without the 
leadership of Senator Kennedy, who has once again stood up for the 
Nation's students by engineering and moving this bill forward. I also 
wish to thank Senator Enzi as the Republican leader on the committee 
who worked so quickly to finalize this important bill.
  The bill could not come at a more critical time. Nationwide, the 
lowest income students at 4-year colleges face roughly $5,800 in unmet 
need after a standard financial aid package, after their loans, and 
after the amount their families contribute. To put it simply, for the 
neediest students all across the country, current aid has not kept up.
  Students of my home State of New Jersey are no stranger to the 
skyrocketing cost of a college education. In fact, within the past 5 
school years, the cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, room and 
board at 4-year public colleges in New Jersey has increased by almost 
50 percent.
  Unfortunately, family household incomes have not kept up with these 
rising costs. Even after financial aid is taken into account, nearly 40 
percent of median family income in New Jersey is needed to pay for 1 
year of college at 4-year public colleges. It is simply unbearable for 
our students. The result is some of our Nation's brightest students are 
locked out of a college education simply because they cannot afford it.
  I am pleased this legislation will reverse that troubling trend for 
all our students and families across the country by adding billions 
into new grant aid. Next year alone, New Jersey students will see more 
than $40 million in new grant aid. Over the next 5 years, students in 
my State will have access to more than 400 million Federal grant 
dollars because of this bill. Grant dollars equal access for many of 
today's college students.
  The bill reduces subsidies to student lenders and gives it back to 
our students. It is about time. For far too long, students struggling 
to afford college have seen their grants shrink, their loan rates go up 
and their debt explode after graduation. More than 60 percent of New 
Jersey students graduate with loan debt that averages $16,000. That is 
not a manageable amount of debt for a 21-year-old college graduate. It 
is an unfair burden.
  That is why I am proud of the bill, because it will help lessen the 
burden on our students. It will put money directly where it is most 
needed, into Pell grants and other critical financial assistance that 
benefits our Nation's students. From here on, millions of young people 
across the Nation will have the opportunity to see their dream of a 
college degree come true.
  They will have access to the key that will unlock their own economic 
empowerment, build a successful career, and succeed in a global 
economy. Today we have an opportunity to move critical legislation 
forward to be signed into law, so the doors to college will be open for 
all students. In the global economy we live in today, we clearly cannot 
afford as a nation to have our students priced out of a college 
  As someone who grew up poor, the son of immigrants, the first in my 
family to go to college, I know the power of the programs we are ready 
soon to vote on. I would never have attended St. Peters College, I 
would have never gone to Rutgers Law School without the power of key 
Federal grant programs such as Pell and Perkins, I certainly would not 
be standing with you today on the floor of the Senate had it not been 
for Federal financial aid.
  I wish to ensure that is a birthright for all our students across the 
Nation, regardless of the happenstance of where they were born in life.
  I urge my colleagues to support the bill.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Who yields time?
  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I yield 10 minutes to the Senator from New 

[[Page S11246]]

  Mr. GREGG. Mr. President, the bill before us today from a policy 
standpoint does some things which are extremely positive. It adjusts, I 
think appropriately, the cost of the amount of subsidy that is going 
into the system relative to higher education loans and takes savings 
from that subsidy, which was going to lenders, and moves it over to 
assist people who need assistance, especially under the Pell Grant 
  So it is, from a policy standpoint, moving in the right direction in 
many ways. In addition, as the Senator from Wyoming has pointed out, 
there needs to be tied to this a Higher Education Reauthorization Act, 
which unfortunately is not in this bill and needs to be in this bill in 
order to complete the package. That is critical to this whole 
undertaking in making sure we significantly improve our ability to 
support people who are going to college, making sure the loans which 
these people get are properly disclosed and that the money does not end 
up, as we increase the Pell grants, being taken away by increasing 
tuitions which are tied to our Pell grant increases.
  So there are good things about this bill. There is also a big part of 
this bill that is missing, which is the Higher Education 
Reauthorization Act, and certainly the Senator from Wyoming made an 
eloquent statement on that.
  What I wished to talk about, however, was the fact that this bill 
comes to the floor in an inappropriate way, using the wrong vehicle, 
and as a result deems serious harm to the budget process we have in the 
Congress. This bill comes under what is known as reconciliation. 
Reconciliation is a very unique vehicle which we have in the Senate, 
the purpose of which is to avoid filibusters and allow legislation to 
move, which is going to be used on the spending side of the ledger, at 
least, to reduce entitlement spending.
  It was created out of the 1974 Budget Act. It has been used over the 
years for the purposes of reconciliation, of reducing entitlement 
spending. In fact, in 1990, it reduced entitlement spending--it was 
used to reduce about $480 billion in entitlement spending over a 10-
year period; in 1993, about $433 billion; in 1995, about $337 billion; 
in 1997, about $118 billion; and then in 2006, about $36 billion. Why 
do we use this mechanism? Well, every year we have two different types 
of spending in the Federal Government. We have discretionary spending, 
which means it occurs on an annual basis and is appropriated, it goes 
through the Appropriations Committee. That represents about a third of 
the Federal Government spending. Then we have entitlement spending, 
which is spending that occurs where the Federal Government, as a result 
of laws, has an obligation to pay money to somebody.
  Agriculture programs are, for example, entitlement programs, where if 
you plant a certain amount of fields or do not plant a certain amount 
of fields, you have a right to obtain payment from the Federal 
Government under the law. Medicare is an entitlement program. We have a 
lot of education programs which are arguably entitlement programs and a 
lot that are discretionary programs.
  But the problem is, when you have an entitlement program, you cannot 
adjust it annually through the appropriations process. The only way you 
can adjust it is by changing the law which affects that program and 
creates savings or more spending. So the Budget Act recognized this and 
also recognizes it is extremely hard to do that in the context of the 
Senate because the Senate has the filibuster, where you can basically 
tie anything up without 60 votes. It also requires 60 votes to pass 
just about anything.
  So this very unique and very powerful instrument was given to the 
budgeting process called reconciliation, where there is a limited 
amount of time to debate a bill, in this case 10 hours as a result of a 
conference report, no filibuster can apply, and it only takes 51 votes 
to pass the bill.
  But this whole concept of giving this very strong power to the Budget 
Committee and to the committees of jurisdiction was to allow us to 
reduce the rate of growth of entitlement spending in order to make the 
budget more manageable.
  What has happened, however, has been to reverse that, to actually do 
the exact opposite using reconciliation, with the representation that 
we are going to save, I believe it is $750 million, which is 
minuscule--remember that over the years we have been saving billions of 
dollars through reconciliation--with the representation that we are 
going to save $750 million. We have a chart which reflects this. These 
are savings which we have received under reconciliation when we have 
used it in the past: $428 billion; $433 billion; up until 2006, we did 
$39 billion.
  This year, this reconciliation bill, saves less than $1 billion net. 
So it is not a savings vehicle at all. In fact, what it does is it uses 
that $93 billion savings to mask an almost $21 billion spending event.
  It takes the reconciliation--as long as you get a net savings, you 
are allowed to use reconciliation--and uses it to dramatically increase 
spending. In fact, the amount of new spending in this reconciliation 
bill exceeds the amount of savings by 2,900 percent. In other words, 
the spending in this bill is 29 times larger than the savings in this 
bill, which totally undermines and makes a joke out of the budget 
process and reconciliation, and it is totally inappropriate to have 
done this, to use reconciliation in this manner.
  It could be effectively argued the proposals that have been brought 
forward under this bill would easily pass this Congress with 60 votes, 
with or without reconciliation. But by using reconciliation, they 
allowed themselves to eliminate all amendments, for all intents and 
purposes of any significance, and they have this 51-vote rule, and as a 
result of spending 2,900 times more than they save, they essentially 
make a mockery of the budget process.
  Not only do they make a mockery of the budget process on the issue of 
reconciliation, they make a mockery of the budget process by the manner 
in which they score the bill itself. This bill is set up so the Pell 
grants will increase, which is what the goal of the bill is, to $5,400 
per person, but the spending on the Pell grants will also increase 
rather dramatically over the next few years because we are taking a 
subsidy which is now going to lenders and putting it into Pell 
  But in the year 2013, under this bill, we are going to go back to 
zero, essentially zero dollars being spent on Pell grants. That is what 
this bill calls for in 2013, zero dollars essentially will be spent on 
Pell grants.
  What a farce. I mean, really. In order for them to take advantage of 
reconciliation and the protection of reconciliation, they had to put in 
place a program which goes from almost $5 billion in the year 2012, 
down to zero in 2013. Talk about truth in budgeting or integrity in 
budgeting. How can anybody vote for this who believes we should have an 
honest budget and claim that they are being honest?
  There is $9 billion of Pell grant, which one could realistically 
argue over the next 10 years is going to have to be spent, which isn't 
accounted for. It is sort of, well, it will appear from the sky, I 
guess. One would think that would be enough; that basically the 
proposal makes a mockery of the reconciliation process in the budget, 
makes a mockery of the baseline by going back to zero spending in 2013. 
But then we get to pay-go; pay-go, the sacred cow of fiscal discipline 
from the other side of the aisle that we hear so much about. We are 
going to stand by pay-go in order to discipline Federal Government 
spending. We heard that incessantly in the last Congress from the other 
side of the aisle. We heard it incessantly from people running for 
office from the other side of the aisle. But it has become Swiss cheese 
as bill after bill after bill has been brought to the floor which has 
waived pay-go when it came to spending. What a surprise. The Democratic 
majority waives pay-go when they want to spend money.
  I ask unanimous consent for an additional 3 minutes.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. GREGG. Then they claim they are using pay-go to discipline the 
Federal Government. It has happened time and time again. The most 
recent egregious event prior to this one was SCHIP, where they added 
$41 billion of new spending waiving pay-go. This $6 billion down here 
that was a pay-go violation has now grown to be about

[[Page S11247]]

$20 billion under this bill. So the little hole in the Swiss cheese 
should be a great big hole.
  Anyone who comes to this floor and claims they are using pay-go to 
discipline the Federal budget at any time for the rest of this Congress 
will have to have a sanity test given to them because they certainly 
can't defend that on the basis of any facts.
  The problem with this bill isn't the policy. In fact, quite honestly, 
I would have probably used a more aggressive policy. I would have been 
willing to auction all these accounts to get to the real number as to 
what the subsidy is. We might have saved a lot more money and put more 
money into Pell. The problem is, this bill, in the manner in which it 
is brought to the floor, basically puts a stake through the heart of 
the budget process. It takes reconciliation, which is the most 
significant tool of the budget process, and makes a joke out of it by 
using it to increase spending 2,900 times more than it creates savings. 
It takes the baseline and makes a joke out of it by reducing Pell 
grants in 2013 to zero spending, when we know we are going to be 
spending $5.5 billion on Pell grants in 2013. It takes pay-go, which is 
alleged to be a disciplining mechanism, waives it, and then spends $21 
billion that would have been subject to it.
  My point is obviously one of frustration, as former chairman of the 
Budget Committee. I would like to see us have a budget that means 
something. We didn't pass a budget. The Democratic Party passed a 
budget; I congratulated them for that. I didn't agree with it, but at 
least they passed it. But if they are going to pass it, they ought to 
have a purpose for it, and they ought to live by it. The purpose should 
not be to expand spending, to make a joke of the baseline, and to 
basically put holes in the pay-go mechanism which they claim is the 
essence of their fiscal discipline.
  From a public policy standpoint, the bill may have good policy in it, 
but from the standpoint of managing the fiscal house of this country, 
it is doing fundamental harm to the budget process.
  I yield the floor.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, how much time remains?
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Massachusetts has 
17 minutes 49 seconds.
  Mr. KENNEDY. I yield 8 minutes to the Senator from Illinois.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The assistant majority leader is 
  Mr. DURBIN. I say to my friend from New Hampshire, who is leaving the 
Chamber, I am sorry he is leaving. This water is put on our desks by 
our loyal, dutiful pages every day. Sometimes I want to check this 
water because I think perhaps imbibing it leads to political amnesia. 
The longer you drink the water on the floor of the Senate, the more you 
tend to forget reality and forget what has happened.
  I just listened to a speech by the Senator from New Hampshire talking 
about deficits and reconciliation bills. The bill we have before us 
today, the most dramatic increase in student aid ever in the history of 
the United States, does not add to the deficit. We pay for it. What the 
Senator from New Hampshire, whom I respect and like very much, fails to 
acknowledge is that when he was chairing the Budget Committee, when 
these reconciliation bills would come to the floor, they would add 
dramatically to the deficit every year. In fact, we have totaled it up. 
Over the last several years--2001, 2003, 2005--the Republican 
reconciliation bills added $1.7 trillion to the deficit. Now they come 
and rail against the deficits.
  This bill before us today is a bill that is paid for. It is paid for 
by taking subsidies away from student loan companies. Do you know what 
happened the last round in reconciliation? They ended up taking about 
$12 billion in help away from students and giving it to the wealthiest 
people in America in tax cuts. Talk about reverse Robin Hood, not only 
adding to the deficit but taking money away from students, raising the 
cost of their loans, and then giving that money in tax cuts to the 
wealthiest people. That was the politics that was rejected in the last 
  My friends and colleagues are making speeches believing that we don't 
have this written down somewhere about what actually happened, but we 
do. I am afraid my colleague has forgotten some of the most important 
things that happened under his watch and their watch, which was to add, 
in three reconciliation bills, $1.7 trillion to the deficit.
  Mr. GREGG. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. DURBIN. I will when I have finished. This may be the single most 
important bill we pass. Most of us realize if there is one thing in 
America that gives you a chance to succeed, it is education. We can't 
guarantee to our children that they will be successful or wealthy or 
happy in life, but we can give them a chance. The best chance we can 
give them is to let them go to school and progress along and go to the 
best schools they can attend.
  I happen to be standing here today because 50 years ago, somebody in 
the United States House of Representatives decided that because the 
Russians had launched Sputnik and frightened us with the prospect of 
losing the war in space, we needed to give more young kids a chance to 
go to college. So college, which had been kind of an elite opportunity 
for the wealthy and the sons and daughters of those who graduated from 
colleges in the past, was now expanded and democratized.
  In the 1960s, kids, such as myself, from east St. Louis, IL, had a 
chance to go to great universities such as the one in town that I went 
to named Georgetown. I didn't have any money. I borrowed it from the 
National Defense Education Act. What a deal. Pay it back over 10 years 
after you graduate, and at a 3-percent interest rate. It worked. I got 
my college degree and my law degree. I paid back my loans, and the 
money was there for the next generation.
  Now what has happened to the cost of college education? It has gone 
through the roof. I just sat down with a couple kids from colleges in 
Chicago. I said to a junior and a senior: How much debt will you have 
when you graduate? The junior said: I am at $35,000 right now. The 
senior said: I will be at $45,000 when I graduate.
  Those figures, unfortunately, are not unique. More and more students 
are ending up with debt.
  I say to Senator Kennedy and to my good friend and close colleague, 
George Miller of California, they have done a great favor for America 
and for America's families. What they have done with this bill is to 
expand Pell grants, which are basic grants to kids whose families don't 
have a lot of money, for the first time in 5 years. For 5 years these 
Pell grants have been frozen. Now they are going up. Then they have 
come up with unique ways to reduce the burden of student loans so that 
young people who sign on the dotted line so they can go through another 
year of school, never thinking what this means 10 or 20 years from now, 
are going to pay dramatically less in interest.
  George Miller and I introduced a bill that cut the interest rate on 
student loans from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent. It is included in this 
important bill we are going to pass today. Think about that for a 
minute. If you think of it in terms of your home mortgage, what if you 
could cut your interest rate in half, from 6.8 to 3.4. You are going to 
pay off that loan sooner. You will pay less in interest.
  They have another provision in here that is dramatic and ingenious. 
If a young person coming out of college with student debt agrees to 
take a job as a nurse or a teacher or a social worker, things we need 
more young people to dedicate their lives to, we are going to forgive 
their loans more quickly. We are going to limit the amount of money 
they have to pay back each year on the loan. Then in 10 years, the 
student loan is erased, if they will go into teaching. This is a 
dramatic commitment we have made to young people to go into jobs and 
professions that are so important for our future.
  We give a lot of speeches here about how much we love this country 
and how much we want to see it succeed. The real test is whether we are 
prepared to invest in our children. This bill invests in our kids. This 
bill takes money that might otherwise have gone for tax cuts for the 
richest people in America, which was the pattern that was building 
around Congress, and instead invests in working families and

[[Page S11248]]

their kids. It says to a child: If you are good enough to get in a good 
university, if you will work hard and succeed and get a degree, even if 
you have debt, at the end of the day, we are going to stand by you. We 
are going to give you a chance to pay that debt off in a reasonable way 
and to pick the career and life that you want. Don't take the job that 
pays the most money because you can pay off your debt. Take the job 
that your heart is attached to.
  I remember running into a science teacher in the suburbs of Chicago, 
a young woman fresh out of college. She was so happy to be teaching 
math at this great high school. I said: Is this what you wanted to do? 
She said: No. I wanted to teach in an inner-city school, but I couldn't 
do it because they don't pay as much money. I have student loans, you 
know. They pay me more out here in the suburbs, and I can pay off my 
loans and buy a car. So I made that choice. I wish I didn't have to, 
but I made that choice.
  Repeat that story a thousand times, see that teachers who could have 
gone into areas where they are desperately needed now have a chance to 
  I tell my colleagues, as I look back on the things that made a 
difference in my life, laws that were passed that really changed my 
life, when this Congress made a commitment to loans to kids from 
families such as my own, at that point in time they gave me a chance. I 
stand in this Senate today because of it. Senator Kennedy, Senator 
Enzi, Congressman Miller, and others are going to provide those 
opportunities for thousands of young American kids.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The time of the Senator has 
expired. Who yields time?
  Mr. ENZI. I yield an additional 3 minutes to the Senator from New 
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from New Hampshire.
  Mr. GREGG. I appreciate the Senator from Wyoming yielding to me. I 
know the Senator from Illinois would have yielded for a question, but 
his statement carried him away. Please note, I have no water on my 
desk--not by choice but I suspect that they don't trust me with it. I 
was glad to learn that it is the water that has caused the 
dysfunctionality of the Senate. I had been beginning to think maybe it 
was the Democratic leadership, since the change of hands. But getting 
this clarified is very important.
  I do want to make this simple point: Pell grants were expanded 
through SMART grants when we did the last reconciliation, when I was 
chairman of the Budget Committee. We put $8 billion in the SMART 
grants, which helped kids, especially freshman and sophomores. We 
eliminated the origination fees, and we also increased the auto zero to 
$20,000, and we increased the asset protection allocation. So we did 
make these decisions. But at the same time we reduced the funds to 
lenders and put a significant amount of it into deficit reduction, $40 
billion into deficit reduction.
  The Senator from Illinois takes the position that when we cut taxes, 
we were having the same impact on the budget as when they increased 
spending. That is the difference between the parties. It is 
fundamental. We believe when we leave people's dollars in their pockets 
and they get to spend it themselves--because it is their money to begin 
with--that is not necessarily aggravating the Federal budget situation. 
They believe when you take the money out of people's pockets and expand 
the size of the Government--in this case, 2,900 times more than you 
save in the area of spending reduction--that is good, because there is 
a philosophical difference here.
  The philosophical difference, quite simply, is the Democratic Party 
believes it knows better how to spend people's money than the people 
know how to spend their money. We believe the people know how to better 
spend their money better than the Federal Government does. That is the 
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. GREGG. Well, Mr. President, first I would like to complete my 
thought on this point because I think it is critical. The budget 
reconciliation process was not set up to be a stalking-horse for 
dramatic expansion in the size of Federal Government entitlement 
programs. That was not the purpose of the reconciliation structure. It 
was set up for the purposes of being able to control the rate of growth 
of entitlement programs.
  Now, we can debate whether the budget process was set up for the 
purposes of allowing us to return more tax dollars to taxpayers with 
reasonable tax rates, but certainly on the issue of spending, there is 
no question but that reconciliation was not intended to expand 
entitlement spending.

                          independent students

  Ms. LANDRIEU. Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask my friend, the senior 
Senator from Massachusetts, for clarification of language in the 
conference report. On page 60, the report refers to the definition of 
an independent student for purposes of determining financial aid 
eligibility. The current law was amended to allow students who are 
orphans, in foster care or wards of the court or who were orphans, in 
foster care or wards of the court any time after the age of 13 to be 
considered independent students. I would like to ask the Senator to 
clarify that individuals who were orphans, in foster care or wards of 
the court when they were 13 years of age or older but no longer orphans 
in foster care or wards of the court when applying for college will 
still be considered independent students.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. Chairman, the senior Senator from Louisiana is 
absolutely correct. The conference report does indeed make that change 
in the law. And I can assure the senior Senator from Louisiana that we 
will further clarify this language in the upcoming conference report 
for the Higher Education Amendments of 2007--S. 1642.
  Ms. LANDRIEU. I appreciate that clarification. I believe we should 
modify the language to be more clear on this point. I believe it should 
read ``(B) is an orphan, in foster care, or a ward of the court, or was 
an orphan, in foster care, or a ward of the court at any time when the 
individual was 13 years of age or older;''.
  Mr. KENNEDY. I agree and I assure the senior Senator from Louisiana 
that we will make this change in the conference report for the Higher 
Education Amendments of 2007, S. 1642.

                  definition of not-for-profit lender

  Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I thank my colleagues, especially 
Senators Kennedy and Enzi, as well as their staff, in working together 
during discussions on the College Cost Reduction and Access Act to 
recognize the work of nonprofit loan providers and the services they 
provide to students and States.
  I would like to clarify with my colleagues the committee's intent 
regarding one of the provisions that relates to these nonprofit loan 
providers. It is my understanding that nonprofit entities that use 
eligible lender trustees to provide Federal loans to students--such as 
the one in my State, EdSouth--will benefit from the special allowance 
payment for not-for-profit holders in this bill. The language in this 
bill allows an eligible lender trustee acting on behalf of a nonprofit 
entity to be eligible to receive this payment on behalf of the 
nonprofit entity, as long as such nonprofit entity was acting as the 
beneficial owner of Federal student loans on the date of enactment. I 
ask Senator Kennedy and Senator Enzi whether my understanding of the 
provision is, in fact, what was intended by the bill.
  Our staff has all worked carefully on the language to ensure that the 
legitimate efforts of nonprofits can continue, without opening up 
loopholes that would allow for-profit entities to benefit from the 
special allowance payment differential.
  I thank my friends for their time today and again appreciate their 
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I thank my friend from Tennessee. As I 
have stated previously, this bill reflects the priority of several of 
our Members by recognizing that nonprofit lenders in their States make 
important contributions in their States. My colleague is correct, it is 
the intent of this legislation to allow nonprofit entities that provide 
Federal student loans through an eligible lender trustee to benefit 
from the differential special allowance payment, as long as the 
nonprofit pays no more than reasonable

[[Page S11249]]

and customary fees to the trustee that holds the loans in trust for the 
benefit of the nonprofit entity and as long as the nonprofit was the 
sole owner of the beneficial interest in the loans on the date of 
enactment. I commit to continue to work with my friend in the future to 
make any necessary clarifications with respect to this provision.
  Mr. ENZI. I, too, thank Senator Alexander for his commitment to 
students in his State and across the country, and to the public purpose 
mission of nonprofits, such as EdSouth and, in my home State of 
Wyoming, the Wyoming Student Loan Corporation. I appreciate him taking 
the time to clarify this issue. I, too, agree with my colleague 
regarding his explanation of the intent of the bill with regard to 
nonprofit entities that provide Federal student loans through eligible 
lender trustees. And I join Chairman Kennedy in his commitment to make 
any further clarifications necessary to ensure that existing nonprofit 
loan providers that use eligible lender trustees will be able to 
benefit from the differential special allowance payment.
  (At the request of Mr. Reid, the following statement was ordered to 
be printed in the Record.)
 Mrs. CLINTON. Mr. President, I would like to thank Majority 
Leader Reid, HELP Committee Chairman Kennedy and ranking member Enzi 
for their leadership in increasing college access for millions of 
students and ensuring America stays competitive in the global economy. 
I am proud to join them in this effort.
  This legislation comes at a time when the rising cost of college is 
making it tougher for all students who want to go to college to attend. 
Those who do attend college are borrowing twice what they would have 
borrowed 10 years ago. That is why I am pleased this legislation will 
increase Pell grants up to $5,400 in the next 5 years, providing 
hundreds of millions in increased grant aid to New York students over 
the next 5 years. It is no secret to anyone that the purchasing power 
of the Pell grant has declined dramatically in recent years. This 
package not only provides a dramatic increase in the Pell grant, but 
also raises the automatic-zero expected family contribution threshold 
to $30,000, making more students from needy families eligible to 
receive the maximum grant award. This conference report cuts the 
interest rate for certain student loans in half from 6.8 percent to 3.4 
percent, saving our student borrowers hundreds each year on their 
student loans.
  The mathematics of rising college costs are simple. More students are 
taking on more debt. I am pleased to join my colleagues in taking these 
critical steps to increase college affordability and access for all 
students. I am thrilled to support a conference report that will help 
low- and middle-income students meet the cost of college. Last 
November, Democrats made a promise to reduce the cost of college for 
our student borrowers and today we have delivered on that promise.
  Under the management of Chairmen Kennedy and Miller, the House and 
Senate have reached an agreement that provides $20.2 billion in student 
aid, nearly $3 billion more than the original Senate Reconciliation 
package passed in July of this year. I am very pleased the College Cost 
Reduction and Access Act tackles an issue addressed in legislation I 
sponsored The Student Borrower's Bill of Rights by providing 
protections for student borrowers while they repay their loans. It does 
so by capping monthly loan payments at 15 percent of the borrower's 
discretionary income and providing several important protections to 
members of the Armed Forces and public service employees during 
repayment. Under this provision, for example, a starting teacher in New 
York with the state average student loan debt can have his or her 
monthly payments reduced by 21 percent. This savings will prove 
critical to helping students manage their debt, especially in the first 
few years after they graduate.
  I hear from many young people in New York and around the country, who 
want to be teachers, police officers, nurses, social workers and public 
defenders, but sadly are so straddled with debt, such careers are not 
an option for them. This is the wrong policy; and today, we send the 
message that we want to encourage more young people to go into lower 
paying public service jobs. I am pleased this bill creates a new loan 
forgiveness plan through the direct loan program for public service 
employees. Under the loan forgiveness program the remaining loan 
balance on a loan is forgiven for a borrower who has been employed in a 
public sector job and making payments on such loan for 10 years. Under 
the loan forgiveness for public service employees provision, a public 
school teacher in my State with $19,000 in student loan debt will not 
only have his loan repayment capped at 15 percent, but could save 
nearly $8,000 on his loan after teaching for 10 years. I strongly 
believe this program will help to fill the void in public service our 
nation will soon face as our baby boomer generation sets to retire by 
providing an incentive for college graduates to pursue lower paying, 
but vital professions.
  The College Cost Reduction and Access Act helps make higher education 
more affordable, and that is good economic policy, good social policy, 
and good budgetary policy. I am proud Congress has chosen to make this 
groundbreaking investment in our students.
  Mr. REED. Mr. President, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 2669, 
the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007.
  This important legislation, which I helped craft as a member of the 
Senate Education Committee and as a conferee, will make a substantial 
Federal investment in need-based grant aid for low-income students, and 
will significantly help middle-class students and families pay down and 
manage their loan debt.
  Under this bill, the maximum Pell grant for eligible students will be 
increased by $500 next year and to $5,400 by 2012. This means that 
Rhode Island students will receive $7.8 million in additional grant aid 
next year and nearly $85 million over the next 5 years, increasing the 
average Pell grant in Rhode Island by $360 in 2008 to $2,880.
  H.R. 2669 also includes provisions to stem the increasing numbers of 
middle-class families falling further into debt to finance a college 
education. As such, this bill phases in a lower interest rate on new 
subsidized Stafford loans to undergraduate students, reducing the rate 
in half over 4 years on such loans from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent; 
helps students manage their debt by capping monthly Federal student 
loan payments at 15 percent of a borrower's discretionary income; and 
provides loan forgiveness for borrowers who continue in public service 
careers for 10 years, including nurses, teachers, and librarians.
  I am especially pleased that this legislation includes provisions 
from my FAFSA Act--S. 939--to increase the income level at which a 
student is automatically eligible for the maximum Pell grant, ensuring 
that all students from families with incomes of $30,000 or less receive 
the maximum Pell grant. This automatic-eligibility level would also be 
tied to the Consumer Price Index to ensure that the benefit keeps pace 
with inflation and does not become diluted.
  The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 also includes 
provisions I authored to double the income protection allowance for 
dependent students from $3,000 to $6,000 over 4 years and increase the 
income protection allowance for independent students, including adult 
learners and veterans, by 50 percent over 4 years. These increases will 
protect students who have to work during college so they can earn more 
without having it count against their financial aid.
  This is significant legislation for families in Rhode Island and 
across the Nation, and I strongly urge its passage. I want to thank 
Senators Kennedy and Enzi, and their staffs, for their work on this 
bill. I also look forward to building on this legislation by working 
with my colleagues in the House to craft a final Higher Education Act 
reauthorization bill in the coming weeks that would, among other key 
components, include provisions I authored in the Senate version of the 
reauthorization bill to improve the Leveraging Educational Assistance 
Partnership or LEAP program; simplify the financial aid process and 
forms; and strengthen college teacher preparation programs. These two 
bills combined will tackle the twin goals of access and affordability 
for students and families and help ensure that our Nation remains 
competitive in today's global economy.

[[Page S11250]]

  Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I rise today in strong support of the 
conference report to accompany the College Cost Reduction and Access 
Act now before the Senate. The conference report and the underlying 
bill make extraordinary progress on one of the most critical challenges 
before this Congress: making college affordable for all our Nation's 
deserving students.
  We all know that education plays a crucial role in helping people 
pursue the American dream. That term was first used by James Truslow 
Adams in his book ``The Epic of America,'' which he wrote in 1931 
during the Great Depression. He wrote:

       The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life 
     should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with 
     opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. . . 
     . It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but 
     a dream of social order in which each man and each woman 
     shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they 
     are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what 
     they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth 
     or position.

  Congress passed the Higher Education Act in 1965 to help all 
Americans ``attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately 
capable.'' Millions of students have gained access to higher education 
due to the financial assistance programs, including Pell grants, this 
historic legislation created.
  The problem now is that tuition costs are rising rapidly, wages are 
stagnant, and Congress hasn't kept up in terms of providing the funding 
necessary to bridge the gap. In my home State of Maryland, for example, 
in the 5 years between the 2000-2001 and 2005-2006 school years, the 
cost of attending 4-year public colleges increased 36 percent, from 
$10,846 to $14,793. But the median household income in Maryland 
increased just 11 percent. Even after financial aid is taken into 
account, 32 percent of the median family income in Maryland is needed 
to pay for just 1 year at a 4-year public college.
  The effects of this disparity between college costs and family income 
are devastating. Each year, more than 400,000 talented, qualified, 
hopeful students cannot attend a 4-year college because, they cannot 
afford it. When I was a young man, such a person might have had other 
viable options for making a decent wage and pursuing a fulfilling 
career. But today, 60 percent of new jobs require some postsecondary 
education, compared to just 15 percent of new jobs when I was a 
  Those students who do go on to college are becoming more and more 
dependent on private loans which carry high interest rates to finance 
their education. In 1986-1987, the maximum Pell grant covered 39 
percent of the average public 4-year college tuition in Maryland; in 
2005-2006 it covered only 27 percent. This decline is due, in part, to 
a shift of a great portion of Federal spending on student aid from 
grants to loans: 30 years ago, 77 percent of Federal aid to students 
was in the form of grants, and only 20 percent was in the form of 
loans. By the 2005-2006 school year, this distribution pattern had been 
reversed, to 73 percent of aid taking the form of loans and 20 percent 
coming in grants.
  Just 15 years ago, fewer than half of all students took out loans to 
finance their education. That number must seem incredible to today's 
students and parents struggling to finance a college education because 
today more than two-thirds of students borrow for college. In Maryland, 
53 percent of students graduating from 4-year institutions in 2005 
graduated with debt. The average student graduating from a 4-year 
college in Maryland that year owed $14,822 in student loan debt.
  The growing barriers to higher education also have a profound effect 
on our national economy. We do not have enough highly skilled workers 
in this country. We recruit overseas to find engineers, computer 
programmers, and scientists. Nor can we fill essential social service 
positions. More and more students avoid critically important career 
paths such as teaching, nursing, social work, and law enforcement. 
These are some of the most important professions in our country but 
lower starting salaries are a distressingly powerful disincentive: 
nationally, nearly a quarter of public 4-year college graduates and 
over a third of private 4-year college graduates have too much debt to 
afford a starting teacher's salary. Over half of those graduating from 
private colleges have too much debt to enter the social work 
profession. Debt levels are also causing graduates to delay buying a 
home or a car and postpone marriage and having children. Such decisions 
have important ramifications not just for the individuals involved, but 
for society as a whole.
  As a member of the Budget Committee, I worked hard with my colleagues 
to make more money available for grant aid. We allocated $9.2 billion 
for education and training over and above the President's budget 
request to be invested, in part, in Pell grants. We believe such an 
investment will make college more affordable so that all eligible 
students can gain the knowledge, skills, and experience they need to 
succeed, and to ensure that employers have the workforce they need to 
compete in a fiercely competitive, global marketplace.
  The important legislation before us today takes essential steps to 
reverse our current course. The College Cost Reduction and Access Act 
will make college more affordable by: Increasing access for low-income 
students by increasing the maximum Pell grant from $4,310 to $4,910 
next year and to $5,400 by 2012, and simplifying the financial aid 
process for low-income students by increasing the income level at which 
a student is automatically eligible for the maximum Pell grant; easing 
the burden on borrowers by cutting student loan interest rates in half, 
from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent for undergraduate students with 
subsidized student loans; protecting borrowers by capping monthly 
Federal loan payments at 15 percent of discretionary income; protecting 
working students and ensuring they are not penalized by increasing the 
amount of student income that is sheltered from the financial aid 
process; and encouraging public service by providing Federal loan 
forgiveness for public service employees.
  The College Cost Reduction and Access Act would increase access to 
and preparation for college by both restoring funding for Upward Bound, 
a key college access program, and creating college access challenge 
grants to increase college outreach activities in every State.
  The legislation strengthens minority serving institutions with an 
additional $500 million investment. Despite tremendous challenges and 
limited resources, minority serving institutions are responsible for 
educating many of our Nation's minority students who would not 
otherwise obtain a degree. Increasing Federal investment will allow 
these institutions to provide a better education to more students.
  But it is not enough to offer more aid. Recent investigations have 
shown that private lenders have been exploiting the student loan 
system, to the detriment of the students the system is meant to serve. 
The College Cost Reduction and Access Act will ensure that the student 
loan system works for students and saves taxpayer dollars by directing 
unnecessary lender subsidies to student aid and injecting competition 
into the loan program.
  In addition, this legislation will help ensure that more students are 
prepared for college by helping to provide good teachers to the schools 
where they are needed most. According to research, teacher quality is 
the schooling factor with the most profound effect on student 
achievement. Good teachers can make up to a full year's difference in 
learning growth for students and overwhelm the impact of any other 
educational investment, including smaller class sizes. Unfortunately, 
our educational system pairs the children most behind with teachers 
who, on average, have less experience, less education, and less skill 
than those who teach other children. We will only close student 
achievement gaps when we improve teacher quality and experience. We 
must make obtaining advanced training and experience in teaching more 
accessible and teaching at-risk students more desirable. I have 
introduced a bill, S. 1282, which Senators Snowe and Durbin have 
cosponsored, to encourage the establishment of a class of ``Master 
Teachers'' with extensive experience and training. If they are willing 
to teach for an extended period of time in a school that is not meeting 
adequate yearly progress goals, then they would be rewarded under my 
bill with a 25-percent Federal tax exemption on their salary.

[[Page S11251]]

While my Master Teachers bill has not been incorporated into the 
legislation before us, I hope the Senate will pass it soon.
  The College Cost Reduction and Access Act also creates incentives for 
good teachers to teach in high-need schools by establishing new TEACH 
grants. These grants will provide scholarships of $4,000 per year for 
high-achieving undergraduate and graduate students who commit to 
teaching a high-need subject in a high-need school.
  This legislation contains the biggest increase in Federal student aid 
since the original G.I. bill. This is how our country should be 
investing its money: helping to open the door to our children's dreams, 
not just for their benefit, but for the benefit of our communities, our 
economy, our Nation, and all of humanity. I am proud that this Congress 
realizes that increasing access to postsecondary education serves both 
as a gateway to the American dream for our Nation's students and a 
pathway to our economic success and security as a Nation.
  Mr. BINGAMAN. Mr. President, I rise today to express my support for 
the conference report to H.R. 2669, the College Cost Reduction and 
Access Act of 2007. As you know, the cost of college has tripled in the 
last 20 years.
  In my State of New Mexico, the cost of attendance at 4-year public 
colleges has increased by 35 percent since 2000-2001. Unfortunately, 
the median household income in New Mexico only increased by 11 percent 
in that same time frame, considerably lower than the rate of increase 
at public colleges.
  Each year, there are hundreds of thousands of students who are 
prepared to attend a 4-year college, but do not do so because of 
financial barriers. Further, an increasing number of students have to 
rely on loans to finance their education. In fact, in New Mexico, more 
than half of all students graduating from 4-year institutions graduate 
with debt. And the average student in New Mexico now graduates from 4 
years of college with more than $16,000 in debt.
  The conference report to H.R. 2669, the College Cost Reduction and 
Access Act of 2007, is critical to addressing the skyrocketing costs of 
college, and making college more accessible to students across the 
  This legislation will actually increase student aid by more than $20 
billion over the next 5 years, without increasing the national debt. It 
is paid for by cutting excessive Federal subsidies to lenders 
participating in the student loan program.
  This legislation will increase the maximum Pell grant by $500 next 
year and to $5,400 by 2012. In addition, the bill: simplifies the 
financial aid process for low-income students by increasing the income 
level at which a student is automatically eligible for the maximum 
Pell; protects working students, increasing the amount of student 
income that is sheltered from the financial aid process; expands 
eligibility for financial aid so more students will qualify for more 
assistance; eases the burden of student debt by cutting student loan 
interest rates in half to 3.4 percent for undergraduate students with 
subsidized student loans; caps monthly loan payments at 15 percent of 
discretionary income so that graduates with significant loan debt can 
better manage their payments, particularly those in lower paying jobs 
or those supporting children; and forgives the student debt for those 
who commit to public service for a period of 10 years.
  This student aid package could mean as much as $200 million over the 
next 5 years in financial aid to help New Mexico's students and 
families beat back the rising costs of college.
  In addition, I am pleased that the conference report will restore 
critical funding for Upward Bound, a key college access program.
  Further, the legislation will provide scholarships of $4,000/year for 
high-achieving undergraduate and graduate students who commit to 
teaching a high-need subject, such as math, science, special education, 
foreign languages, or bilingual education, in a high-need school.
  Moreover, the conference report provides critical support to minority 
serving institutions. Despite tremendous growth in racial and ethnic 
minority enrollment at the nation's colleges and universities in recent 
years, Hispanics, African Americans, and Native Americans continue to 
lag behind their non-minority peers in college enrollment. The College 
Cost Reduction and Access Act will invest an additional $500 million in 
these institutions, including: $200 million in funding for Hispanic 
serving institutions--HSIs--to increase the number of students 
attaining degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math, and to 
facilitate transfers for students from 2-year HSIs to 4-year HSIs; and 
$60 million in funding to strengthen tribal colleges and universities.
  I am particularly pleased that the conference report contains 
language I authored that would create and fund a program for Native 
American serving institutions. The legislation will provide $10 million 
to fund and help create a program for Native American serving 
institutions, those nontribal colleges and universities that serve 
large Native American student populations.
  This conference report is critical to helping American families meet 
the increasing burden of sending their children to college, and also 
meets some very important national priorities. I urge my colleagues to 
support this conference report.
  Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I am pleased to support the College Cost 
Reduction and Access Act of 2007, a bipartisan piece of legislation 
that will increase student aid by billions of dollars through cutting 
Federal subsidies to private banks and lenders. This is a significant 
victory for students around the country and in my State of Wisconsin, 
which is estimated to receive over $260 million in new need-based grant 
aid in the next 5 years and over $115 million in additional loan 
assistance over in the next 5 years. Wisconsin has a world-class higher 
education system and I am pleased to support this much-needed 
legislation that will help open the doors to college for more students 
in my State.
  Access to a higher education is increasingly important in the 
competitive, global environment of the 21st century and is one of the 
most important investments our Federal Government can make to advance 
our country's economic growth. But while the importance of attending 
college continues to increase, the cost of attending college also 
continues to increase, which often causes financial strain on students 
and their families as they seek to finance the cost of higher 
  I am concerned about the continued educational attainment gap between 
rich and poor students and the fact that access to higher education too 
often depends on access to financial resources. The ability of a 
student to attain a higher education should not depend on that 
student's financial background, but rather on a student's desire to 
obtain a higher education. Expanding need-based grant aid is one of the 
best ways that the Federal Government can expand access to higher 
education for low income students and I am pleased the conference 
report we will adopt today does just that.
  This conference report contains a significant boost in funding for 
the Pell grant program, ensuring that the maximum Pell grant award will 
reach $5,400 by 2012. I have long supported and led efforts in Congress 
to increase funding for the Pell grant program, a program dedicated to 
expanding access to college for low income students. I was pleased to 
join with my colleagues in February to pass a significant increase in 
the maximum Pell Grant award to $4,310 from $4,050, the first increase 
in 4 years. Earlier this year, I also joined with my colleagues 
Senators Kennedy, Collins, and Coleman to lead letters to both the 
Budget and Appropriations Committees that advocated for the highest 
possible increase in funding for Pell grants. This substantial increase 
in the Pell program will benefit millions of students during their 
higher education careers.
  My colleagues and I have long fought against the declining purchasing 
power of the Pell grant by supporting substantial increases in the 
maximum grant award. According to data from the Department of 
Education, the maximum Pell grant covered half the cost of tuition, 
fees, room and board at public, 4-year colleges 20 years ago, but only 
covered a third of these same costs during the 2005-2006 period. The 
declining power of the Pell has impacted my State of Wisconsin as well.

[[Page S11252]]

In 1986-1987, the $2,100 maximum Pell grant covered 58 percent of 
college costs for Wisconsin students. In 2005-2006, the $4,050 maximum 
Pell grant only covered 38 percent of college costs in Wisconsin.
  I have been a proud supporter of the Pell grant program for many 
years and I will continue to strongly advocate for increases in Pell 
funding in the annual appropriations process to provide the highest, 
fiscally responsible increase in the Pell program in the coming years. 
While this legislation is an important first step, we have more to do 
to help ensure the Pell program can adequately cover the costs of 
college attendance for low income students.
  In addition to the declining purchasing power of need-based aid like 
Pell, the availability of such need-based grant aid does not come close 
to meeting the demand for it. As a result, an increasing number of 
students turn to Federal and private loans to finance their education. 
According to the College Board, in the late 1970s, over three-fourths 
of the Federal aid to students were grants, while 20 percent of Federal 
student aid were loans. Recent data from the College Board indicates 
that the breakdown between grant aid and loans had switched by 2006, 
with grant aid only making up twenty percent of the Federal student 
  Students in my State of Wisconsin, like students in other parts of 
the country, are greatly affected by the Federal Government's increased 
reliance on student loans at the expense of grant aid. The Project on 
Student Debt reports that more than 60 percent of Wisconsin graduates 
in 2005 graduated with debt and the average student who graduated from 
a 4-year college in my State in 2005 owed over $17,000. This 
legislation seeks to help alleviate the debt burden that some students 
face upon graduation by cutting the student loan interest rates in half 
by 2011 for undergraduate students who have subsidized student loans.
  Higher levels of debt can also influence the decisions students make 
about whether or not to take a job in the public interest sector or in 
the more lucrative private sector after graduation. We have all heard 
about students who are interested in working in areas like teaching, 
law enforcement, legal aid, or State and local government but who 
decide against taking these public interest jobs because of their high 
debt loads. It is unfortunate that so many students are forced to 
consider their debt loads when deciding which jobs to take or pursue. 
The loan forgiveness provision of this legislation will help those 
graduating students in Wisconsin and around the country who want to 
pursue careers in public service.
  While I applaud much of the policy included in this measure, I am 
disappointed that we are again seeing the reconciliation process used 
to advance legislation that is not primarily a deficit reduction 
package. While there are better arguments for using reconciliation to 
consider this particular bill than there were for the reconciliation 
protection proposed for past legislation to open up the Alaska National 
Wildlife Refuge to drilling, I am still troubled by the use of this 
extraordinary procedure as a way to advance a significant policy change 
that is not primarily a deficit reduction package. Thanks to the 
efforts of our Budget Committee Chairman, Senator Conrad, the days when 
the reconciliation process could be totally subverted to advance 
legislation that actually worsened the deficit are over. I also commend 
Chairman Conrad for insisting during the conference discussions on the 
budget resolution that this particular reconciliation instruction move 
closer to a more reasonable qualifying threshold of deficit reduction 
than was initially proposed. I hope that in future budget resolutions, 
we can further tighten the use of reconciliation to ensure that it is 
used for what it was intended, namely to advance significant deficit 
  Passage of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 
represents a great victory for students in my State of Wisconsin and 
around the country. I believe everyone deserves fair and equal access 
to a higher education and adoption of this bill moves us closer toward 
that vision. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the coming 
months and years to continue to expand the Pell grant program and other 
need-based programs so that hard-working students will be able to take 
advantage of the full opportunities that access to a higher education 
  Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, the bill that we are debating today comes 
at a critical time for our country.
  As the connected world has brought about new competition from nations 
across the globe, the need for more Americans to be armed with a 
college education has become essential to the future of our economy.
  And as a new generation enters a work world that demands highly 
skilled, highly trained workers, a college degree is necessary to open 
the door to a successful career.
  But for too long the deck has been stacked against students seeking 
to build their careers and grow our economy.
  College has become more expensive, interest rates have grown, and 
those students who are able to attend college often graduate saddled 
with debt and unable to buy a car or a house.
  Today we have the opportunity to turn the tide in favor of students 
and ensure a stronger future for our country.
  The College Cost Reduction and Access Act puts students first, makes 
college more affordable, cuts interest rates, helps recent graduates, 
and encourages public service.
  It also helps to ensure that students today have the same 
opportunities that I had growing up.
  When I was growing up, my family didn't have a lot. The only way I 
was able to attend college was through Pell grants and student loans. 
In fact, because of Pell grants and student loans, all seven kids in my 
family were able to get a college education.
  Today those seven kids are a school teacher, a lawyer, a firefighter, 
a homemaker, a computer programmer, a sports writer, and a U.S. 
Senator. In my book that was a great investment.
  This bill helps a new generation attend college and realize their 
dreams in a variety of ways.
  First, this bill raises the maximum Pell grant by 25 percent over 4 
years to $5,400 per student. That will make a real difference for 
students in my home State of Washington.
  In Washington state, 20 years ago, the maximum Pell grant covered 53 
percent of the costs at a public, 4-year college. Today it only covers 
33 percent of those costs. By raising the maximum Pell grant, this bill 
will help students in Washington State and across the country attend 
  For Washington State, this bill will make another $30 million 
available in need-based grants next year alone. Over 5 years, the bill 
will provide an additional $333 million for low-income students.
  This bill will also ensure that college graduates are not trapped by 
high loan payments after college. This bill cuts the interest rate on 
Federal loans in half to 3.4 percent for students with subsidized 
  It also guarantees that borrowers will not have to pay more than 15 
percent of their monthly income in student loan payments. This will 
bring immediate relief to students who are burdened with excessive 
  Another problem with high student loan debt is that it limits the 
career choices of college graduates.
  Many can't afford to take a job in public service and pay back their 
loans at the same time.
  This bill encourages public service by providing loan forgiveness for 
graduates who pursue careers in these areas.
  As a former teacher, I am also extremely pleased that the TEACH grant 
program has been included in this bill.
  This program will provide $4,000 grants to students who commit to 
teaching in high-need subjects at high-need schools.
  It is past time that we reward students who are willing to embrace 
the challenge of working with our country's students who are the most 
  I am also pleased that we were able to increase funding for the 
Upward Bound program which helps more low-income students prepare for 
and attend college. This program is so important for assisting students 
who may be the first ones in their family to go to college.
  And I am pleased that minority-serving institutions will see funding 
in the

[[Page S11253]]

form of a $500 million investment contained in this bill.
  And finally I am especially proud that this bill contains two 
provisions I worked hard to include that help groups that face other 
unique problems in the college aid process.
  For our brave men and women in uniform, I worked to include a 
provision that will allow them to defer their student loan payments 
during their deployments and as they transition out of service.
  Currently, the law limits how long servicemembers can defer their 
payments to just 3 years.
  As we all know, those who are serving our country have enough to 
worry about these days.
  With deployments as long as 15 months in Iraq, and young dependent 
families left at home, our servicemembers are already facing real 
financial challenges.
  Paying back student loans should not be something weighing on their 
minds as they serve us overseas or as they transition back into 
civilian life.
  So this bill lifts this 3-year limit and makes more servicemembers 
eligible for student loan deferment and relief.
  I am also pleased that this bill improves college access for homeless 
and foster care students.
  These vulnerable students face tremendous barriers in their 
education--especially those who don't have a parent or guardian who is 
able to guide them through the process.
  In this bill, I joined with my colleagues to simplify the student aid 
application process and made homeless and foster students eligible for 
higher levels of assistance.
  I really want to thank Senator Kennedy for his leadership in moving 
this bill forward and making sure it does right by our students. He is 
a tireless champion for our young people, and his work is allowing so 
many more of them to achieve the American dream.
  To me, this is simple. If we want our economy to grow, our people to 
succeed, and our country to be strong, we have to help more students 
get a college education. This bill will do just that, and I urge my 
colleagues to support it.
  Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, today I rise to laud the passage of the 
College Cost Reduction and Access Act conference report, which is a 
strong symbol of our commitment to higher education access and 
affordability. This bill includes key tools and resources to enable 
students and families across our Nation to attain the American dream of 
a quality education.
  I would like to thank Chairman Kennedy, Ranking Member Enzi and their 
staff for their hard work on this important legislation. Their tireless 
efforts have succeeded in making higher education a reality for 
millions more young people.
  Specifically, a key component of this legislation is the increase in 
college aid by roughly $20 billion over the next 5 years, including the 
much needed increase in the maximum Pell grant award. For many years 
now, one of my top education priorities has been to increase the Pell 
grant award for college students with the greatest financial need.
  Twenty years ago, the maximum Pell Grant covered 40 percent of costs 
for attending a 4-year college in California. Today, it covers just 30 
percent. This bill helps our students when they start out by increasing 
the maximum Pell grant award from $4,300 today to $5,100 in fall of 
2008 and $5,400 in fall of 2011. This provision is particularly 
important to California, which has over 584,580 Pell grant recipients--
more than any other State in the country.
  The bill also includes a provision which I introduced with Senator 
Feinstein that would remove a barrier, known as the tuition sensitivity 
clause, in the Pell grant system that unfairly prevented students who 
attend lower-tuition colleges from receiving the maximum grant. 
According to the Congressional Research Service, the elimination of the 
tuition sensitivity clause will benefit approximately 96,000 students 
in the next academic year and would provide an average Pell grant 
scholarship increase of over $110 per student.
  The bill also tackles the problem of student loan debt upon 
graduation. Currently, 46 percent of seniors at 4-year colleges in 
California graduate with debt, owing on average $15,000 in student 
loans. This bill helps students by capping Federal student loan 
payments at 15 percent of a borrower's discretionary income. The bill 
also encourages public service by rewarding those who choose to work in 
nursing, teaching, or law enforcement for 10 years by forgiving their 
remaining debt after that time period.
  I also want to thank Senators Kennedy and Enzi for the consideration 
and adoption of my amendment regarding Upward Bound. Upward Bound seeks 
to capture potential, first-generation college students--many of whom 
are low-income youth--and prepare them for the rigors of college. 
Upward Bound is a fantastic tool for America's youth. These programs 
provide mentoring, academic tutoring, summer classes, and other 
services to youth across our Nation to provide them with the resources 
and skills they need to be successful in college.
  In my home State of California, we have 73 Upward Bound programs that 
serve approximately 5,600 students a year. Due to funding shortfalls, 
186 programs nationwide are in jeopardy of being cut, including 11 
programs in California. Four of these programs are in San Bernardino, a 
low-income area in southern California. These four programs were cut, 
not because of performance--they actually have proved to be very 
successful and have high program scores--but because of a lack of 
  The conference report also includes the creation of an Asian American 
and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Higher Education Serving Institution 
designation, a provision that I and Senator Akaka have championed in 
past. This designation would allow grants and other Federal assistance 
to be awarded to institutions that have a student enrollment of at 
least 10 percent Asian American and Pacific Islander and has a 
significant enrollment of financially needy students. The additional 
funding would help AAPI-designated institutions to fulfill their 
missions to assist students to meet their educational goals. The AAPI 
designation would apply to approximately 86 colleges and universities 
nationwide, and would apply to approximately 40 schools in California 
  I am pleased to strongly support the passage of the College Cost 
Reduction and Access Act Conference Report.
  No one should be denied the opportunity to go to college simply 
because of cost. This landmark legislation will help ensure that 
students and families across the country have the opportunity and 
freedom to attend the college of their choice. I strongly believe an 
investment in college aid is an investment in our Nation's future--and 
this bill advances this vision.
  (At the request of Mr. Reid, the following statement was ordered to 
be printed in the Record.)
 Mr. DODD. Mr. President, I rise today to herald the passage of 
the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. This bill not only helps 
students and families better afford higher education, it will 
ultimately ensure that our country stays competitive in a global 
economy. I thank my colleagues Senators Kennedy and Enzi for their 
efforts on this important legislation and congratulate them on bringing 
additional dollars into the student financial aid system. I also look 
forward to completing the rest of the Higher Education Reauthorization 
package later this year.
  The College Cost Reduction and Access Act makes significant steps to 
assist students in several important ways: by increasing student aid, 
especially the Pell grant; by addressing college debt; by increasing 
college access and expanding college preparation programs; by providing 
incentives for teachers to go to the neediest schools; by reforming the 
student loan system to benefit students; and by strengthening minority 
serving institutions. We have accomplished all of this without 
increasing the Federal deficit and actually providing $750 million in 
deficit reduction. We recapture $20 billion by reforming the student 
lending system in order to invest additional resources into preparing 
our students for the global economy.
  The annual cost of college is staggering at roughly $13,000 a year to 
attend a public university and $30,000 on average for a private 
university. In Connecticut, 33 percent of family median income is 
needed to pay for a public college. Thirty three percent even

[[Page S11254]]

after financial aid is received! At a time when costs for other 
household necessities are rising and incomes are not keeping up, 
families and students are getting priced out of their opportunity to 
attend college.
  This year alone, it is estimated that 400,000 high school graduates 
who are prepared and ready to go to a 4-year college will be unable to 
go because their families cannot afford it. If America is to remain the 
land of opportunity, then we must ensure that college is available to 
all of our citizenry.
  Not only is paying for an education a daunting task, but the debt 
incurred to complete a higher education is astounding. In Connecticut, 
58 percent of graduating seniors are leaving school with debt, at an 
average of $19, 440 per graduate. For low-income and moderate income 
students the thought of being saddled with a burden of debt prevents 
them from pursuing higher education at all. Aside from the Federal loan 
program, practices in the private lending system have been demonstrated 
to dig our students deeper and deeper into debt.
  In this bill, we have also strengthened our commitment to recruit 
Americans to public oriented sectors--public service employees, 
childcare workers, and many others will be offered loan forgiveness on 
their direct Federal loans after 10 years of payments. By capping the 
repayments of Federal loans at 15 percent of one's discretionary 
income, this bill will also ensure that students can choose jobs that 
best suit them, rather than jobs that only pay the bills. Borrowers are 
also assisted by the interest rates on subsidized student loans being 
cut in half. Over four years, this rate will be reduced from 6.8 
percent to 3.4 percent. Students will be enabled to pay off debt sooner 
with less interest due to this provision in the conference report.
  Students in most need of assistance are the critical focus of this 
bill. I am pleased that minority serving institutions receive an 
additional $510 million to ensure that their students graduate. The 
Upward Bound program also receives an additional $285 million to 
prepare low-income students for a higher education. In order to ensure 
that all students are ready to go onto college, the new TEACH program 
provides incentives for students who agree to teach in high-poverty 
schools or teach high-need subjects.
  This bill will also allow additional low-income families to 
automatically claim zero expected family contributions when filling out 
financial aid forms. This change will allow students of these from 
lower-income families to be eligible for increased Pell grants. 
Financial forms themselves will become more user-friendly to provide 
additional assistance for low-income families in accessing student aid.
  I am very pleased with the increase in the Pell grant provided in 
this bill. The maximum Pell grant will be raised to $5,100, in 2008 and 
up to $5,400 by the year 2012. I wish it were much higher, considering 
the small portion of the cost of public education that a Pell grant 
provides today. The grant used to cover 80 percent of the average 
tuition, fees, room and board at a public university. Today the Pell 
grant covers an average of 29 percent. While I continue to advocate for 
even greater increases in the Pell grant, I commend my colleagues for 
taking steps to get us back to the 80-percent tuition coverage we 
achieved in 1975.
  I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to talk about the 
private student lending market. Until we reach the goal of 80 percent 
of students' tuition being covered by Pell grants and other forms of 
Federal financial aid, many students have been, and will continue to be 
forced to turn to private and direct consumer and student loans, which 
are not guaranteed by the Federal Government and are not subject to 
loan limits.
  Private student loans are now the fastest growing segment of the $85 
billion student loan industry due to rising college cost, Federal 
financial aid remaining stagnant and increased demand for a college 
education. This concerns me for several reasons.
  The underwriting for private loans is similar to that used for other 
forms of consumer credit. This means that student borrowers, who 
usually have little or no credit history, poor credit scores, or no 
parental cosigner, or whose parents have poor credit histories, will 
typically pay higher rates than those with good credit histories and 
those with parental cosigners with good credit. This model runs counter 
to the longstanding Federal purpose of student aid, which is targeting 
low-cost financial assistance to students with the greatest needs, one 
of the great success stories of our country dating back to the G.I. 
bill in 1944.
  Earlier this year, at a hearing I convened within the Senate Banking 
Committee, committee members listened to testimony that detailed 
aggressive and questionable marketing practices and other unseemly 
industry practices, ranging from conflicts of interest to kickback 
schemes to consumer fraud, that have been unveiled by congressional and 
State investigations into the private student loan industry. The issues 
uncovered at that hearing led to legislation, ``The Private Student 
Loan Transparency and Improvement Act of 2007,'' which was marked up 
and approved overwhelmingly by the Senate Banking Committee prior to 
Congress adjourning for the August recess.
  The ability to pursue a higher education is a fundamental element of 
the American dream. We must ensure that Americans have options to be 
able to pay for college, and I believe that private lending should be 
one of them. But students should have full and timely access to all of 
the information they need regarding the terms and conditions of private 
student loans in order to make a well-informed decision regarding the 
financing of their educational needs. Conflict-driven industry 
practices like revenue sharing and cobranding must be prohibited and 
student loan underwriting should occur in a manner that does not have a 
disparate or discriminatory impact on minority borrowers.
  The legislation we passed within the Banking Committee would 
accomplish many of these important objectives. It requires lenders to 
provide more accurate and timely information to their customers about 
the interest rates, terms, and conditions of their products, thereby 
helping students better understand their financial options and 
obligations. It prohibits documented practices that have harmed 
students and families in obtaining the most competitive and affordable 
student loans and requires a government review into the extent to which 
private student loan underwriting practices may disparately impact 
student borrowers and colleges on the basis of factors including race 
and income levels.
  I believe it is imperative that as we consider inclusion of the 
private lending legislation as a complimentary component to the Higher 
Education Act. We should ensure that this fast-growing market is well 
regulated and remains accessible and affordable as an alternative 
source of higher education funding for students who need them. I look 
forward to working with the managers of this bill towards that 
important goal.
  The legislation before us will make college more affordable for 
students and their families. Reinvigorating our commitment to higher 
education as we do in this conference report keeps our country moving 
in the right direction. I urge my colleagues to further invest in our 
future by completing the Higher Education Act reauthorization before 
the end of September.
  Again, I congratulate Senators Kennedy and Enzi and all of my 
colleagues, including Representative Miller, for providing the most 
significant assistance to our students since the G.I. bill.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator's time has expired.
  Who yields time?
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, how much time is remaining?
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Wyoming controls 3 
minutes 44 seconds, and the Senator from Massachusetts has 9 minutes 25 
seconds remaining.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I want to be notified by the Chair when I 
have 3 minutes left.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator will be notified.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, for those who have been watching this 
debate and discussion, we just want to underline one fundamental and 
very important concept and principle: that the $20 billion which is 
included in this legislation--which is going to be used in the ways we 
have described earlier

[[Page S11255]]

today, with the Pell grants, with the loan forgiveness for students who 
want to go into public service careers, for some relief for the middle 
class--not a nickel of that is taxpayers' money. That comes out of the 
lenders' pot of resources, which many of us believe is overly generous 
to the lenders. That is another issue. When we have time after the vote 
at 10:15, we will have some opportunity to develop that issue. But this 
is a transfer of $20 billion from the lenders for help and assistance 
to the students. There is no question about any of that. That is No. 1.
  Importantly, as we are coming close now to the time where we are 
going to be voting on this issue, I am very mindful of those 
magnificent words of Nelson Mandela, one of the great heroes of the 
century, certainly of our generation. On the occasion he was asked 
about education, he said the most important weapon for change in the 
world is education. That is something those of us who are strong 
supporters of this proposal believe in. It was said, in my time, by 
President Kennedy, and also by President Lyndon Johnson, that no 
American, no qualified student should be denied--should be denied--a 
college education because of cost.
  That is a concept. That is a value. I would think all of us on this 
side of the aisle believe that very deeply, and many on the other side 
of the aisle. We would not have made the progress we have made over 
recent years unless we had that kind of a commitment.
  We have drifted from that kind of commitment, that ideal that was set 
by Mandela, that was understood by John Adams when he wrote of the 
importance of educating the common citizenry in the Constitution of 
Massachusetts. No state constitution has a more detailed ideal 
established in its constitution about educating the public than the 
Massachusetts Constitution, written by one of the greatest of our 
Founding Fathers.
  It was understood by Horace Mann when he established the public 
school system--the importance of education, the importance of education 
in terms of opportunity and promise and hope. It was understood by 
Abraham Lincoln in the height of the Civil War when he established the 
land-grant colleges to help and assist the education of citizens all 
over this Nation. It was understood by Abraham Lincoln, understood by 
Dwight Eisenhower, when this Nation was challenged by Sputnik in the 
late 1950s and the development of the National Defense Education Act, 
understood by Franklin Roosevelt with the GI bill that has been 
available for more than 60 years starting with a generation that fought 
in World War II.
  If you take the total cost of that GI bill that was expended--and as 
most economists have pointed out, there was a $7 return for every $1 
invested in education, $7 returned for the cost of education. Talk 
about expending resources, talk about national priorities, this was the 
program that built the middle class in this country. This was the 
program that made America great.
  Now we have the opportunity again to follow the wise counsel and 
judgment of some of the great philosophers--Nelson Mandela and John 
Adams--in our time and in our generation to renew that commitment. This 
bill is a downpayment for it.
  I agree with my friend from Wyoming, we have to go ahead and do the 
reauthorization. We will do it. We are strongly committed to doing it. 
We have passed a bill here in the Senate, and the chairman of the House 
committee has committed that the House committee will do it, and then 
we will finish it together.
  But this is an opportunity. This is the downpayment. This is not 
going to be the only action that is going to be taken by us in our 
continued march toward progress in terms of the education and hope for 
young people. Not all the problems are going to be resolved. Not all 
the problems are going to be solved. This is a downpayment.
  When we look at the priorities of education at other times, we have 
to wonder why we are even having a debate on this issue--and why we are 
just talking about $20 billion. If you take what was expended on 
education, on investing in the GI bill over the period of the GI bill, 
it was a third of the total budget. If we spent now on education what 
we spent then, we would be spending 130 billion dollars--not $20 
billion. Imagine that. $130 billion it would be, and we are only 
talking about $20 billion. We were spending at that time all of that--
for what?--for educating the young people. Is there anyone in here who 
would say that was a mistake? Find the Members of the Congress or the 
Senate who said we have spent too much in terms of investing in the 
education of the children in our country.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator has 3 minutes 
  Mr. KENNEDY. Find me that person. I remember being on the floor of 
the Senate when we had strong voices in opposition to the Pell grants, 
to Stafford loans back in the early 1960s. I do not hear those voices 
today. I do not hear those voices today. Why? Because we know when it 
is done well, and it is done right--and it has not always been, but in 
this case it is, in terms of the Pell grants, in terms of the loan 
forgiveness, in terms of some help and assistance and relief for 
middle-class families--it will make an important difference.

  When we hear the eloquence of some of our colleagues and about the 
difference it has made for their education--whether it is Dick Durbin, 
whether it is Maria Cantwell, who talks about the difference it has 
made in her family, whether it is Patty Murray, who said all seven 
members of her family had help and assistance in terms of student 
loans, and all of those people are professional people today, paying 
taxes, repaying whatever those kinds of loans are.
  Let's think about what this issue is about. This is about hope. This 
is about our future. This is about progress in America.
  Finally, this is the kind of investment we need if we are going to 
deal with the challenges and problems of global competition. We will 
have a chance to go into this in greater detail after the vote this 
morning, but we need these kinds of investments, and the kind of 
investments we have in the reauthorization bill in terms of teachers 
and the kinds of investments we had in the COMPETE Act that was passed 
in a bipartisan way earlier this year. We need this in order to stay 
competitive in the global economy, to make sure America's economy is 
the strongest. We need this investment in terms of our national 
security to make sure we are going to have the men and women who are 
going to be able to defend this Nation and use the various kinds of 
technologies that are developed.
  Finally, we need this investment in order to have a well-trained and 
educated citizenry who are going to be able to breathe life into the 
institutions our Framers established. That is what we are talking 
about. We are not going to achieve all of that with this legislation, 
but it is going to be a meaningful and ongoing and continuing 
commitment, and one that all of us who are supporting this proposal 
recognize as something that must be followed up on and strengthened and 
shaped as we move forward.
  Mr. President, I withhold the remainder of my time.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator's time has expired.
  The senior Senator from Wyoming.
  Mr. ENZI. Mr. President, I yield myself the remainder of my time.
  Mr. President, I am always a little disconcerted that what the 
American public gets to watch is the debate on the Senate floor. This 
is not where we get most of the work done. This is not where there is 
agreement. This is where there is the disagreement and the branding of 
the different parties. It is important, but it is not what gets things 
  We have a bill before us today, and the Senate-passed reconciliation 
bill had a vote of 78 to 18. And we had some of these same discussions. 
Those discussions are important. As the only accountant in the Senate, 
I am appalled by the way we score bills around here, the way we come up 
with the different provisions, the different arguments that get made on 
the floor. But I would say the provisions of this conference report 
closely parallel many of the provisions in the Senate-passed bill.
  There were clearly compromises made in reaching agreement on the 
conference report. We can point to things in the conference report that 
are there because of Republican and Democratic sponsors. In the end, it 
is a

[[Page S11256]]

product where the benefits to students outweigh the reservations that 
some of us may have.
  Over 55 percent of the savings are dedicated to increasing the Pell 
grant award. In the next 5 years, low-income undergraduate students 
will see the maximum Pell grant award increase by more than $1,000. We 
will see who all takes credit for that, but that is what the bill does, 
and it will take people from both parties to get it passed. We increase 
the income protection allowance so students are not penalized for 
working and saving for college. The unique role that our not-for-profit 
lenders have in providing information and services to students has been 
  But at the end of the day, we must still reauthorize the Higher 
Education Act. Reconciliation is such a small part, and we cannot leave 
out the other part or we will close the door on our students. We have 
to reauthorize the Higher Education Act that provides the FAFSA 
simplification, year-round Pell, financial and economic literacy, 
better college cost information, and improvements in outreach and 
student support service programs such as GEAR UP and TRIO, in which all 
of us have an interest.
  We have passed eight extensions of the Higher Education Act, starting 
in 2004. The current extension expires on October 31. How much longer 
do we have to wait? My goal is to not have a ninth extension on the 
Higher Education Act. My goal is to debate and pass a higher education 
reauthorization conference report. I look forward to working with 
Senator Kennedy and the House to get this accomplished, or else no 
matter how you slice it, the biggest piece of higher education is left 
  I will have more comments to make on the accounting on these 
different things as we get into further debate after the vote. We did 
agree to a 10:15 vote, and I want to stick to that. I have a lot of 
people I would like to thank. I will also save that for later. I 
believe my time has expired.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator's time has expired. All 
time has expired.
  The question is on agreeing to the conference report.
  Mr. GREGG. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there a sufficient second? There 
is a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Delaware (Mr. Biden), 
the Senator from New York (Mrs. Clinton), the Senator from Connecticut 
(Mr. Dodd), the Senator from Massachusetts (Mr. Kerry), the Senator 
from Arkansas (Mrs. Lincoln), and the Senator from Illinois (Mr. Obama) 
are necessarily absent.
  I further announce that, if present and voting, the Senator from 
Delaware (Mr. Biden) and the Senator from Massachusetts (Mr. Kerry) 
would each vote ``yea.''
  Mr. LOTT. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Idaho (Mr. Craig), the Senator from Arizona (Mr. McCain), and the 
Senator from Kansas (Mr. Roberts).
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Are there any other Senators in the 
Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 79, nays 12, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 326 Leg.]


     Nelson (FL)
     Nelson (NE)



                             NOT VOTING--9

  The conference report was agreed to.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I move to reconsider the vote.
  Mr. KENNEDY. I move to lay that motion on the table.
  The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Massachusetts is 
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 

            Unanimous Consent Agreement--Executive Calendar

  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that on Monday, 
September 10, at 10 a.m., the Senate proceed to executive session to 
debate en bloc Executive Calendar Nos. 238, 239, and 241; that there be 
60 minutes for debate on the nominations equally divided between 
Senators Leahy and Specter or their designees; that at 11 a.m., the 
Senate proceed to vote on Calendar No. 238, followed by a vote on 
Calendar No. 239, followed by a vote on Calendar No. 241; that the 
motions to reconsider be laid upon the table, the President be 
immediately notified of the Senate's action, and the Senate then return 
to legislative session; that Senator Barrasso be recognized to speak in 
morning business--as a side note, this is his maiden speech in the 
Senate--for up to 30 minutes, following which the Senate begin 
consideration of H.R. 3074, the Transportation appropriations bill.
  I will also say, while the distinguished Republican leader is 
present, we are going to complete the Transportation bill next week. 
The last vote next week will be at about 1 o'clock, no later than 1 
o'clock because of the beginning of the Jewish holiday at sundown.
  I have talked with the distinguished Republican leader, and we have 
some items we are going to look to on September 17 and 18. On September 
17, there will be no votes. On September 18, there will be votes. We 
are going to try to develop--we have not done it yet; I have had a 
number of conversations with the Republican leader--as to how we 
proceed on the Iraq matters. We need to finish the Defense 
authorization bill. We want to make sure there is time to adequately 
debate that measure. But we also want to again address the Iraq 
situation. We have people, as I speak, trying to work out something 
that will be different from what we have done in the past. I hope that 
can be done, something on a bipartisan basis. We still may have to do 
the partisan matters. But, hopefully, Senators working together can 
come up with some way we can proceed on that issue. We are not there 
  I want to alert everyone that during the week of September 17, we are 
going to have to do a lot of work on Defense authorization and also the 
Iraq matters. We hope we can complete the bill that week. Again, we are 
not at a point where we are near able to work out a unanimous consent 
agreement on that measure, but I have kept the minority advised about 
every step we have taken in this regard.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there objection?
  Mr. McCONNELL. Reserving the right to object, and I will not be 
objecting, I want to underscore that the speech to which the majority 
leader referred will be the maiden speech of our new Senator from 
Wyoming, Mr. Barrasso. That will be Monday. I look forward to hearing 
what he has to say.
  Also, the majority leader indicated we will be discussing the way 
forward on our next Iraq debate, how to structure it in a way that is 
fair to all interested parties. The majority leader and I will be 
continuing to discuss that matter in the coming days.

[[Page S11257]]

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 
  Who yields time? The senior Senator from Massachusetts is recognized.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I wish to take a few moments, first, to 
thank all of our colleagues for the overwhelming, bipartisan support 
for the conference report. This exceeded the vote we had earlier on our 
education measures, and we also had a number of absentees today who 
indicated favorable support for the legislation. This is a very 
important statement about where we are as a country in terms of the 
education issue. This ought to be reassuring for the students, parents, 
and families of our country.
  Again, I am immensely grateful to my colleague and friend, Senator 
Enzi. Without his strong support in the shaping of both the 
reauthorization legislation and this legislation, we certainly would 
not be here. He spoke very eloquently and well about the importance of 
the reauthorization. It is a viewpoint which I share for the reasons he 
has outlined. The simplicity of the financial aid application is key. 
We have 400,000 young people who are qualified for college but who do 
not go to college. Many do not go to college because they cannot work 
their way through those ten pages of an extremely complex, difficult 
questionnaire, and they do not have the support systems to assist them. 
This reauthorization will assist not only in the simplification of the 
FAFSA that Senator Enzi personally took a great deal of time with, as 
well as Senator Reed, but also with regard to teachers in underserved 
areas and the transparency provisions that will help parents understand 
the costs of various universities.
  The legislation has a number of noteworthy features that the Senator 
outlined in his statement. With this strong vote, we want to give 
assurance that we look forward to working eagerly with the House to 
make sure we have a successful passage; doing so will maximize the 
impact of this legislation we just passed.
  We will certainly work on the issue of college cost reduction and 
higher education access. And we have a number of other education issues 
we are working on as well. We understand the importance of the 
reauthorization of the Head Start Act and the provisions dealing with 
early education. We understand the importance of reforms of K-12, the 
importance of tying in kindergarten into the early grades. We 
understand the importance of getting well-trained teachers in 
underserved areas, the importance of parental involvement, the 
challenges out there with regard to disabled students, the challenges 
so many students are facing in terms of limited English-speaking 
capabilities, and the issues around accountability and growth models. 
There are a lot of complex issues, but we certainly want to wrestle 
with those and eventually have, as a result of working together in our 
committee, a seamless web of progress in the education systems in our 
country. That is certainly our intention. We are well down the road 
with the actions that have been taken today.

  I wish to mention a few of these items we have in the legislation. 
Before I do, I wish to personally mention the individuals who worked 
long and hard on this measure. I failed to do it during the earlier 
presentation when we were under more limited time, but, as I think 
Senator Enzi knows very well, we have been blessed with an 
extraordinary group of individuals who work long and hard. Much of the 
legislation--the authorization and also the general format of a good 
deal of what we have done today--has been in the works for a number of 
years. It did not just happen this year. The authorization legislation 
we passed basically had the name of Senator Enzi on it before the 
changes that took place in the elections. We have been working very 
hard. We have been enormously blessed by an extraordinary group of men 
and women who have worked with us. These are complex, difficult issues 
with incredible implications.
  We have on our Education Committee a membership that is very involved 
and engaged on education issues. All of them have ideas. One of the 
things that makes that committee so interesting is that we have an 
enormous number of ideas and suggestions, and it has taken a good deal 
of time to try to work with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle 
and then with the House. That was achieved.
  I will certainly mention some of those who have done such an 
extraordinary job, and we are very much in their debt. Obviously, we 
are all honored to serve as Members of this institution, but those who 
have worked on this legislation should take a great deal of 
satisfaction in the difference they have made though shaping this 
legislation, because they have played an indispensable role, and we 
value very much their continued contribution.
  On my staff I would like to thank Michael Myers, who has been the 
chief of staff of our HELP Committee, Carey Parker, a longtime friend 
and legislative assistant, Carmel Martin, Missy Rohrbach, Erin Renner, 
and J.D. LaRock. We have Emma Vadehra, Nick Bath, David Johns, Raquel 
Alvarenga, Liz Maher, Lily Clark, Jennifer Fay, Ches Garrison, Scott 
Fay, Melissa Wagoner, Dave Ryan, and Jay McCarthy.
  This has been a bipartisan process all the way. I would also like to 
thank Senator Enzi's wonderful staff, specifically Katherine McGuire, 
Ilyse Schuman, Greg Dean, Beth Buehlmann, Ann Clough, Adam Briddell, 
Amy Shank, and Kelly Hastings.
  I also thank MaryEllen McGuire, Taneisha Woods, and Jeremy Sharp of 
Senator Dodd's staff; Rob Barron, Ellen Murray, and Mark Laisch of 
Senator Harkin's staff; Robin Juliano and Chris Fick of Senator 
Mikulski's staff; Michael Yudin of Senator Bingaman's staff; Kathryn 
Young of Senator Murray's staff; Seth Gerson of Senator Reed's staff; 
Mildred Otero and LaToya Johnson of Senator Clinton's staff; Steve 
Robinson of Senator Obama's staff; Huck Gutman of Senator Sander's 
staff; and Will Jawando of Senator Brown's staff.
  I would also like to thank Senator Reid's staff, Randy DeValk, Gary 
Myrick, and Jason Unger, and his outstanding floor staff without whom 
none of us could do our jobs, Marty Paone, Lula Davis, Tim Mitchell, 
and Trisha Engle.
  I thank especially Senator Conrad and his staff. Without them, there 
is no way we could have completed this bill. So thank you, Mary Naylor, 
Joan Huffer, Lisa Konwinski, and Robin Hiestand.
  And I would like to thank Liz Engel of the Democratic Policy 
  I would also like to thank David Cleary of Senator Alexander's staff; 
Allison Dembeck of Senator Gregg's staff; Celia Sims of Senator Burr's 
staff; Glee Smith of Senator Isakson's staff; Karen McCarthy of Senator 
Murkowski's staff; Juliann Andreen of Senator Hatch's staff; Suzanne 
Singleterry of Senator Allard's staff; Alison Anway of Senator Roberts' 
staff; and Matt Blackburn of Senator Coburn's staff, all of whom put in 
many hours to make this bill a reality.
  As always, we worked closely with Chairman Miller's staff, and I 
would like to thank them as well. Mark Zuckerman, Alex Nock, Gaby 
Gomez, Julie Radocchia, Jeff Appel, and Stephanie Moore all worked 
tremendously hard, and Chairman Miller is lucky to have them.
  I would also like to thank the Parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, and 
Assistant Parliamentarians Elizabeth MacDonough, Peter Robinson, and 
Leigh Hildebrand for their assistance throughout the process.
  More than most, this bill has required significant help and 
assistance from the Congressional Budget Office, and I would like to 
give them a special thanks. Paul Cullinan, Deborah Kalcevic, and Justin 
Humphrey have put in tremendous work--nights and weekends and 
everything in between--to model and estimate the budgetary effects of 
the complex provisions in this bill, and all the many iterations and 
changes that the committee considered. I don't know what we would do 
without them. We certainly wouldn't have been able to move this 
legislation as expeditiously as we did.
  I would also like to thank Mark Koster, Kristin Romero, and Amy 
Gaynor in the Senate Legislative Counsel's Office, as well as Steve 
Cope and Molly Lothamer in the House Legislative Counsel's Office, who 
also worked nights and weekends to assist in drafting the language and 
working out technical issues in the bill.

[[Page S11258]]

  Finally, I would like to thank members of the education team at the 
Congressional Research Service--Adam Stoll, Charmaine Mercer, Jeff 
Kuenzi, and Dave Smole, whose expertise was invaluable throughout this 
  I wish to take a few moments to highlight briefly, once again, in 
greater detail, what the conference report will do. I outlined in the 
earlier presentation the highlights and the reasons for the 
legislation, but for a few minutes I wish to once again remind those 
who are interested in the benefits the legislation provides for all the 
  It is a historic increase in the need-based grant aid--the greatest 
increase since the GI bill. That helps the neediest students. We talked 
earlier about how we should set as a goal not to let a single qualified 
student lose the opportunity to get a college education because of 
cost. We still have a long way to go. We recognized earlier in the 
debate that the cost of college has gone up extraordinarily. But at the 
same time, grant assistance has basically stabilized or gone down in 
real terms, and the earning power of the middle class has been level or 
has fallen slightly over the period of recent years.
  So in this legislation we have tried to provide real assistance on 
the issue of burden in the percentage of repayment. We have done, I 
think, a first-rate job in setting better repayment options that cap a 
borrower's monthly payment at 15 percent of their monthly discretionary 
income. We have included loan forgiveness for borrowers in public 
service jobs, and protection for working students by not penalizing 
their earnings. So many of these students go out and work, and work 
hard, to earn a little money, and yet then they are outside the 
eligibility to benefit from some of important grants in terms of 
assistance. So we have addressed that issue. And we have provided 
matching grants to States to improve college access.
  We cut interest rates--I was referring to that earlier--on new 
undergraduate subsidized loans from 6.8 to 3.4 percent by 2011.
  We provide for scholarships of $4,000 per year for high-achieving 
students who commit to teaching high-need subjects in high-need 
schools. We didn't emphasize or stress that during the early 
presentation. This is one of the great and important provisions in this 
legislation. I think we all understand we need a well-trained teacher 
in every classroom in America, and we need well-trained teachers in 
particular in inner-city schools and also in rural and underserved 
communities. We need them to have the skills to serve, so we provide 
some important assistance to that end.
  Senator Enzi mentioned in the reauthorization that we provide other 
kinds of incentives for schools and colleges to also move in that 
  We support the Historic Black Colleges and other minority-serving 
institutions, such as Hispanic serving institutions and tribal colleges 
and universities. We increase funding for the Upward Bound Program to 
provide tutoring and other support to help disadvantaged students 
prepare for, apply to, and succeed in college. I will show why that 
measure is so important in a moment.
  And we provide these benefits--all of these benefits--at no cost to 
the taxpayer by reforming the student loan industry so that it works 
for students and not the banks. That is the basic concept.
  As we mentioned during the course of the earlier discussion, we 
provide loan forgiveness to graduates in public service. This chart 
mentions the various professions in which individuals can be involved 
to gain that kind of opportunity. They can be in public safety, law 
enforcement, public education, early childhood education, child care, 
public health--with all the Public Health Service agencies; or they can 
be working with special needs children and the disabled community, 
which is enormously important; the elderly, and the frail elderly--
increasingly a challenge for our country; public interest law--these 
are all the public defenders and legal services attorneys, as well as 
prosecutors; public libraries; nonprofit organizations; or teaching 
full time at a tribal college or university.

  I mentioned earlier the article in Time magazine this week that talks 
about the attitudes of students in colleges all over this country, and 
that it is the desire of so many of these young people to be involved 
in public service and to help respond to the needs in their 
communities. They want to be part of the solution, not part of the 
problem. So often, because of their indebtedness, they have to choose 
careers in order to deal with the indebtedness. So this legislation 
will open up or help us take advantage of that idealism that is out 
there. We are giving them a pathway to making a difference in terms of 
the future of our country, and I think that is enormously important. 
That is one of the most important parts of this legislation. We have 
tried to work on it, and I think it will be very important.
  I might give a quick example of how the loan forgiveness works. A 
starting teacher in my State, making a salary of $35,400, has an 
average debt of about $18,100. Under the loan forgiveness plan, where 
he or she would not pay more than 15 percent of their disposable 
income, they will save $730. If they continue to work as a public 
educator, more than half of their indebtedness will be forgiven after 
the required period of their service.
  If you take a similar situation, this is a police sergeant with a 
child in Arkansas, making an annual salary of $28,200, with a debt of 
$17,000. This will help save him or her $1,100 a year in terms of 
repayment. At the end, if he or she stays in law enforcement for ten 
years, $14,800 of the $17,000 debt will be forgiven. $14,800 of the 
$17,000 debt if they stay working in law enforcement.
  So this gives you a good illustration about the loan forgiveness.
  As was mentioned earlier, the higher education reauthorization bill, 
which Senator Enzi referred to, addresses rising costs by requiring 
colleges to publicize college cost information. This is a real problem. 
Parents have a difficult time understanding what the real costs are. 
There are fees and more fees--tuition, room and board. I was absolutely 
startled when the daughter of a very good friend of mine, attending one 
of our finest colleges, indicated to me the cost of the schoolbooks for 
going on to college--over $100 for a freshman schoolbook in a rather 
general subject matter. These are surprises that you are faced with; 
the several hundred dollars additionally that people are unaware of.
  I know some of our colleagues have talked about this and we are 
certainly aware of this challenge and so we are going to try to see 
what we can do to help provide some assistance there.
  Reforms to the student loan system will ensure that colleges are 
recommending lenders based on the best interest of their students. 
Those are the ethical provisions we have added as a result of the 
investigations received broad support in this from the colleges and 
universities. Many of them were stunned by what has been happening, and 
they have been enormously cooperative and helpful.
  And I want to talk about simplifying the financial aid form. I give 
great credit to Senator Enzi and Senator Reed on this. They have 
simplified this form from an enormously complicated ten pages of 
questions to just two pages of essential questions. That will make a 
big difference.
  This strengthens GEAR-UP and TRIO to improve preparation for higher 
education. The record of these programs has been extraordinary in terms 
of providing the bridge for many of those who come from disadvantaged 
backgrounds to get them started into college, and in terms of giving 
them the assistance and the followup so they will need complete their 
higher education.
  Then, also, the reauthorization reforms and improves our teacher 
preparation programs. Teachers are the backbones of our schools, and 
the bill will promote high-quality teacher preparation programs, and 
recruit good teachers to teach in high-need schools--where they are 
needed most.
  So those are some of the essential elements in the reauthorization.
  As we said earlier, we are investing more here in the Pell grant. 
Here, I have the chart of what has happened in terms of the failure to 
increase the Pell grant to keep up with the cost of college. This 
demonstrates where we are going with one very important aspect, and 
that is the assistance in the Pell program. It has remained flat in the 
past. You can look from 2002 all the

[[Page S11259]]

way to 2006, and now we will go to $5,400 by 2012.
  There has been talk that there had been some increase in Pell, all of 
which is true, but that was because there was an increasing number of 
poor students who were eligible for the Pell grant. We have nearly 5 
million more people living in poverty today than in 2000. So we put 
more money into Pell to cover more students, but that did not keep up 
with the growth needs for the grant amount. The point being, this is a 
very important increase in terms of the cost. As the Chair, Senator 
Brown, pointed out, an increase in the cost of universities, a failure 
to provide an increase in grants, and the leveling of salaries of 
people have made it very difficult for many to pay for college.
  In my full statement, I point out in a more dramatic form, what is 
happening in terms of the need for many of these students and that what 
we are seeing currently in our education system is the increasing 
divide of America. I think all of us believe, or should believe, that 
if we are going to be one country, with one history and one destiny, we 
don't want education adding to the separation of a divided nation. It 
ought to be bringing the country together--based upon ability, based 
upon hard work and enterprise and a willingness to work and to achieve 
and accomplish. What we have found in our education system now, for a 
number of reasons, though unintended, it is working to divide the 
country. It should not be. That is a very important issue that we have 
tried to address in a number of different ways in this legislation. I 
believe it is very important to do so. We have not emphasized it, 
stressed it that much in our earlier comments, but it is an underlying 
commitment we have.
  In my more complete statement, I have reviewed the different ways we 
tried to do this. We are going to continue to work at it.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

       As I said when we began our debate this morning, our Nation 
     has always looked to education as the pathway to progress and 
     prosperity. After John Adams recognized education as a 
     fundamental right in the Massachusetts constitution, we 
     embraced this view in my home state by creating the first 
     college and first public school in the nation. A few decades 
     later, legendary reformers such as Horace Mann, first 
     recognized that public schools would be the ``great 
     equalizer'' that delivers opportunity for all to fulfill 
     their potential.
       At the height of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln signed the 
     legislation creating the land-grant colleges and made a 
     commitment on behalf of the nation to the education of the 
     children of our country. During the Industrial Revolution, we 
     rose to the challenge once again. We established free public 
     schools. At the turn of the last century, we founded public 
     high schools to enable the nation to move forward. And after 
     the Second World War, we passed the GI Bill to enable those 
     who served in war to rebuild their lives at home. For every 
     dollar we invested, the Greatest Generation returned $7 for 
     our economic growth.
       The landmark success of the GI Bill shows us what a 
     difference higher education makes. The bill granted World War 
     II veterans up to $500 each term--the equivalent of $5,600 
     today. It swung the gates to college wide open--and half of 
     all veterans went through those gates determined to create a 
     new life for themselves and their families. More than five 
     million veterans received vocational education or job 
     training, and more than two million attended college.
       In 1940, the average GI was just 26 years old and had 
     attended only one year of high school. The bill even enabled 
     many of these GIs, who had served the country so 
     magnificently, to become professionals. In 1957, we were 
     called to action once again. The Soviet Union began a new 
     Space Age with the launch of Sputnik. We rose to the 
     challenge by passing the National Defense Education Act, and 
     by inspiring the nation to land on the moon. We doubled the 
     Federal investment in education.
       Today, we need a similar bold new commitment to enable the 
     current generation of Americans to rise to the global 
     challenges we face. The Higher Education Conference Report we 
     consider today makes that commitment. Today, we'll help 
     millions of students achieve the American dream by providing 
     $20 billion in new college aid--the biggest increase in 
     student aid since the GI Bill.
       Just a few weeks ago, the Senate overwhelmingly voted to 
     approve this bill. Let's look at what the Senate bill did:
       It provided a historic increase in need-based grant aid, by 
     raising the maximum Pell Grant by almost $1,100 over the next 
     5 years, to $5,400 from $4,310 today.
       It provided new student loan repayment options that allow 
     borrowers to cap their loan payments at 15 percent of their 
     monthly discretionary income.
       It offered loan forgiveness to borrowers who work for 10 
     years in a variety of public service jobs. This includes 
     public school teachers, law enforcement and emergency 
     management professionals, social workers, librarians, 
     prosecutors and public defenders, public health doctors and 
     nurses, and child care workers.
       It protected working students by not penalizing their 
     earnings, by raising the ``income protection allowance'' from 
     $3,000 to $6,000 for dependent students, and increasing it by 
     50 percent for independent students.
       It initiated a new program that provides matching grants to 
     states so they can provide more college access activities to 
       Our Senate bill provided all these benefits at no cost to 
     the taxpayer--by cutting the outrageous subsidies the 
     government gives to lenders. We gave that money to the 
     students, where it belongs. The Conference Report we consider 
     today maintains all these benefits to students. But it does 
     even more for students. In addition to the benefits I've just 
     described, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act:
       Cuts interest rates on new subsidized Stafford loans for 
     undergraduates from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent by 2011--a 
     step which will help millions of students manage their 
     student loan debt more effectively.
       It provides scholarships of $4,000 per year to high-
     achieving college students who commit to teaching high-need 
     subjects like math and science in high-need schools.
       It provides more than $500 million to support Historically 
     Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving 
     Institutions, and other colleges that serve minority 
       It increases funding for the Upward Bound program by more 
     than $200 million, which will help provide tutoring and other 
     support services to help disadvantaged high school students 
     prepare for, apply to, and succeed in college.
       This is the bold commitment that our students and families 
     deserve, and it couldn't come at a better time. We all know 
     that a college education is more important than ever, but 
     it's never been more expensive. The cost of college has 
     tripled in the last 20 years. Yet, family incomes are not 
     keeping up with rapidly-rising college prices. Last week, the 
     Census Bureau released new data showing that median household 
     income in America increased just seven-tenths of one percent 
     last year. Meanwhile, the cost of college increased 6 
       In fact, over the last twenty years, the cost of college 
     has increased more than twice as fast as median household 
     income. Since 1986, costs have increased by 216 percent at 
     public colleges, and 208 percent at private colleges. But 
     median household income has gone up just 93 percent over that 
     same time. During the same period, grant aid has not kept up 
     pace with increasing costs.
       Twenty years ago, the maximum Pell Grant covered 55 percent 
     of costs at a public 4-year college. Today, it covers only a 
     third of those costs. The gap between the maximum Pell grant 
     and the cost of attendance at 4-year public colleges has 
     increased almost $3,500 since 2001-2002. Today the gap is 
     $8,746. For years, under Republican control of Congress, the 
     maximum Pell Grant was stuck near $4,000. Earlier this year, 
     Democrats increased the maximum grant to $4,310. But that's 
     far from enough.
       Increasing costs and stagnant grant aid are closing the 
     doors to college for many middle-income and low-income 
     students and families.
       The lowest income students on average have an unmet need of 
     $5,800. Each year, 400,000 students don't attend a 4-year 
     college because they can't afford to do so. It's shameful 
     that low-income students--even those who have worked hard and 
     done well in high school--are less likely to attend and 
     complete college than high-income students. Just one fifth of 
     low-income eighth graders will graduate from college. But 68 
     percent of high-income students will do so.
       That's unacceptable.
       By providing the biggest increase in student aid since the 
     passage of the G.I. Bill, our bill will help close these 
     gaps. Of the $20 billion in college aid that our bill 
     provides overall, $11.4 billion is allocated for additional 
     grant aid. Our bill immediately increases the maximum Pell 
     grant by $500 next year, to $4,800 from $4,310. By 2012, the 
     maximum Pell Grant will increase to $5,400.
       Who will be helped by this bill? It will help students like 
     Sara, who was a first-generation college student. She 
     graduated from Norfolk State University and earned her 
     Master's degree with the help of the Pell Grant and other aid 
     programs. Sara says that the Pell program helped her family 
     know that a better day was coming for them. This bill will 
     help students like Natalie, from Massachusetts, who's a 
     single mother enrolled in college for the first time. She 
     says that without Pell grants, she ``would be stuck in this 
     way of life, with no `light' to look forward to . . . 
     knowledge is power and education is key.'' More than 5 
     million students rely on the Pell grant--5 million.
       This bill provides the help and assistance that millions of 
     Americans need in order to access and afford a college 
     education. This increase in aid is long overdue. But we 
     cannot stop there. Students and families also need our help 
     to manage the crushing burden of student loan debt. As the 
     cost of college continues to rise, the crisis of student loan 
     debt is growing worse. In 1993, fewer than half of all 
     students took out loans to finance their education. But 
     today, more than two-thirds of students borrow for college. 
     Today, the average student leaves college with more than 
     $19,000 in student debt.

[[Page S11260]]

       This mountain of debt is distorting the basic life choices 
     of countless Americans. It's forcing them to delay getting 
     married, delay buying a home, and delay starting a family. 
     It's discouraging many young people from choosing careers in 
     fields such as teaching, social work and law enforcement--the 
     low-paying but vital jobs that bring large benefits to our 
     society. No student should have to mortgage their future in 
     order to pay for higher education. That is why our bill also 
     cuts interest rates in half--to 3.4 percent from 6.8 
     percent--on new subsidized Stafford Loans for undergraduates, 
     which goes to the neediest students.
       By cutting the rates in half, we reduce the interest rate 
     on these loans to some of the lowest levels ever in the 
     history of the federal student loan program. These reductions 
     will provide much-needed help to the 5.5 million students who 
     take out subsidized student loans each year. Reducing 
     interest rates will clearly help students. Under a standard 
     10-year repayment plan, a borrower with $18,000 in subsidized 
     loans will have their interest payments reduced by 35 
     percent, from almost $6,900 to less than $4,500. That student 
     will save almost $2,400 in interest payments. Borrowers who 
     consolidate their subsidized loans will save even more. For 
     example, a borrower with $13,800 in subsidized student loan 
     debt--the average amount--will save $4,400 over the life of 
     their loan.
       Our income-based repayment plan--which gives borrowers the 
     option of capping their loan payments at 15 percent of their 
     monthly discretionary income--will help save borrowers even 
     more. And when it's combined with our public service loan 
     forgiveness plan, the help we'll provide to students will be 
     truly remarkable. Teachers, emergency management technicians, 
     law enforcement professionals, public health doctors, nurses, 
     social workers, librarians, public interest lawyers, early 
     childhood teachers--and many others--will be eligible for 
     loan forgiveness. Take, for example a starting teacher in 
     Massachusetts who makes a salary of $35,421:
       If that teacher graduated with the average loan debt for 
     the State--$18,169--he or she will have a monthly payment of 
       Under the income-based repayment plan, that monthly payment 
     would be reduced to $148 instead--$61 less.
       Over the course of the year, that teacher would pay $732 
     less than under the standard repayment plan.
       If the teacher stays in the job for 10 years, the remaining 
     debt would be cancelled altogether--in this case, a benefit 
     of over $10,000. Or let's consider a starting legal services 
     attorney, who makes $36,000 a year:
       If that student graduated with the average loan debt for 
     lawyers for the State--$51,056--he or she will have a monthly 
     loan payment of $588.
       Under the income-based repayment plan, those monthly 
     payments would be $259--that's $329 less.
       Over the course of the year, that legal aid attorney would 
     pay $3,948 less than he or she would have paid under the 
     standard repayment plan.
       And if the legal aid lawyer stayed in the job for 10 years, 
     the remaining debt would be cancelled--in this case, a 
     benefit of over $50,000. Or let's consider the example of a 
     police sergeant with a child in Arkansas, who makes $28,289 a 
       If that sergeant graduated with the average loan debt for 
     students for the Arkansas--$17,000--he or she will have a 
     monthly loan payment of $196.
       Under the income-based repayment plan, because the sergeant 
     is supporting a child, those monthly payments would be 
     reduced to $97.
       Over the course of the year, the sergeant would pay $1,185 
     less than he or she would have paid under the standard 
     repayment plan. And if he or she stayed in law enforcement 
     for 10 years, the remaining debt would be cancelled--in this 
     case, a benefit of over $14,800.
       Our bill pays for these valuable measures, not by 
     increasing the burden on taxpayers, but by reducing 
     unnecessary subsidies for lenders who take part in the 
     federal student loan programs.
       Today, thousands of lenders offer college loans. The 
     largest, Sallie Mae, is so profitable that a group of 
     investors recently offered to buy it for $25 billion--more 
     than 40 percent above the value of its stock.
       The lenders claim that if Congress reduces their subsidies, 
     it won't be profitable for them to make student loans 
     anymore, and they'll leave the business. But when Congress 
     has reduced subsidies in the past, the lenders' profits have 
     still gone up, not down. Here's a chart that Sallie Mae 
     itself produced. It shows that even though Congress has 
     reduced subsidies several times in the past, the company's 
     profits have continued to go up and up. In 2006, Sallie Mae 
     made $1.1 billion in overall profits. Obviously, there's 
     still plenty of room to reduce lender subsidies further.
       Lenders also claim that if we reduce their subsidies, 
     they'll be forced to reduce the benefits they offer to 
     borrowers on student loans. But what they don't tell you is 
     that many of the benefits they offer are phantom benefits 
     that few borrowers ever receive. According to an independent 
     analysis by, the average borrower saves only $118 
     through borrower benefits offered by private lenders.
       By contrast, the Pell grant increase in our bill will 
     provide an additional $2,360 in grant aid over the next four 
     years, which translates to $3,260 in lower loan payments. 
     When fully phased in, the increase will provide an additional 
     $4,360 per student, which means over $6,000 less in loan 
     payments over the life of the loan. If lenders wanted to 
     offer a comparable benefit, they would have to provide over 
     40 times the level of benefits they now provide.
       Finally, lenders claim that if we cut their subsidies, 
     small lenders will be forced out of the FFEL program, 
     restricting borrower choice and leaving only the big banks in 
     business. Smaller lenders have made this argument before. But 
     when Congress has made sensible cuts in the past, the number 
     of lenders has risen, not fallen. Right now, more than 3,500 
     lenders make federal student loans--the highest number ever 
     in the history of the student loan program. Let's be clear 
     about what smaller lenders typically do. Most of them simply 
     sell the loans to the larger lenders, soon after the loans 
     are made. That's why the biggest lenders hold so many loans.
       Lenders will no doubt continue to complain that the cuts in 
     this bill are too deep, but the reality is that our bill 
     restores the balance to this grossly unfair student loan 
     system by directing funds to the students, not to the banks. 
     It will also encourage long-term reform of the student loan 
     system by creating a pilot program in which an auction will 
     be used to see what subsidies are necessary to keep banks 
     involved in the student loan program.
       For years, the federal government has used auctions to 
     determine prices on everything from broadcast spectrum 
     rights, timber-cutting rights, oil and gas drilling rights--
     even the price of infant formula delivered through the WIC 
     program. There's no doubt we can use auctions to operate the 
     student loan programs more efficiently. The money we save 
     through this pilot program will be sent back to where it is 
     needed most--to increase access to college for students 
     through a state matching grant program.
       I also want to reiterate my commitment to the Higher 
     Education Reauthorization bill. Just a few weeks ago the 
     Senate voted unanimously for this bill. It's critical that we 
     complete work on it this year.
       The reauthorization bill takes steps to ensure that the 
     student loan system is working in the best interest of 
     students, by pursuing needed ethics reforms in the student 
     loan industry.
       It simplifies the federal financial aid application and 
     delivery process, to ensure that this complex system does not 
     work as a barrier to access for low-income students.
       It demands that colleges do their part to keep college 
     costs down. If we do our part to provide needed student aid, 
     they must do their part to keep their tuition and fees 
       And it reforms and improves our teacher preparation system. 
     Teachers are the backbone of our schools. The reauthorization 
     bill promotes high-quality teacher preparation programs, and 
     helps recruit and retain high-quality teachers in high-need 
       The Higher Education Reauthorization bill goes hand in hand 
     with the legislation before us today. Senator Enzi and I look 
     forward to working with our colleagues in the House to ensure 
     that it is also enacted before the end of this session. For 
     many years, Congress was guided by one clear principle with 
     respect to higher education--that no qualified student should 
     be denied the opportunity to attend college because of the 
     cost. I know how important that principle was for President 
     Kennedy. My brother believed very strongly that if you work 
     hard, study hard, and are accepted to college, you should be 
     able to attend the college of your choice--without regard to 
     cost. That view resonated powerfully with students and 
     families, and it helped create the groundswell that led to 
     the creation of the Higher Education Act of 1965.
       We've lost sight of that principle in recent years, but 
     with this bill, we will renew it once again. I'm grateful to 
     my colleague Senator Enzi, and to all the Members of our 
     Committee who helped shape this important legislation. 
     Because of their able work, the Senate approved the 
     legislation earlier this summer with a resounding bipartisan 
     vote, and I look forward to final passage of this bill by a 
     similar strong bipartisan majority.

  I again thank all of our colleagues and staff and yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The senior Senator from Wyoming is 
  Mr. ENZI. I thank the Senator from Massachusetts, Mr. Kennedy, for 
his great explanation of what is in the bill we just passed. As the 
debate on this conference report comes to a close, it is necessary to 
thank those who worked long and hard to get us to this point. It has 
been a lot of people. I appreciate the extensive list that Senator 
Kennedy had.
  Chairman Kennedy has done a marvelous job of pulling everybody 
together, covering very diverse topics, some of them very 
controversial, and working through them. What I always like to point 
out to people is that is not always a compromise. Sometimes it is a 
third way. What we are trying to do is get to a goal. This bill goes a 
long way toward getting to that goal. I thank him for his commitment to 
not only moving forward with this bill but to joining me in pressing 
for the comprehensive higher education reform bill.

[[Page S11261]]

  I would also like to thank everyone on my staff who has worked to get 
us to this point. In particular, I would like to thank Katherine 
McGuire, who directs the whole operation, all of the different bills we 
are working on. There are actually about 55 in the process, covering 
health, education, labor, and pensions.
  I would like to thank Beth Buehlmann, who has been the education guru 
on our side, who has led the team that I have that has helped put 
together these different packages in the education area. I have to say, 
our committee covers everything from birth to death because we start 
with preschool and then we have elementary and secondary education, 
then we have higher education, then we have continuing education. In 
this day and age, it is important for people not just to graduate from 
college, it is important for them to continue to learn. Of course, 
there is a direct relationship between how long you continue to learn 
and how long you live. But it is going to be even more important as the 
baby boomers are retiring that we encourage a lot of them to continue 
in the workforce--perhaps in different jobs than they have ever done 
before. So we have a lot of things we need to get done yet that we have 
been working on.
  Head Start is one of those preschool programs we have. We actually 
handle 69 preschool programs. We need to do some condensing on that so 
we eliminate some duplication, some excess, and some spending. But Head 
Start has already passed the Senate, it has already passed the House. 
We are working very carefully to get that finished up now with a 
conference report, and I think we are making good progress on that.
  On No Child Left Behind, the House has informed us they now have 
their draft proposal ready to discuss. We have been working on that in 
a very bipartisan way for a long period of time now, going back into 
the last session of Congress and now into this one. Again, I 
congratulate Senator Kennedy for the way he has held coffees to bring 
in experts who can clear up, in a more casual atmosphere, some of the 
difficulties, give us a better understanding and share with us some of 
their ideas on how that can be achieved. It has been extremely helpful. 
We have had meetings with Chairman Miller and Ranking Member McKeon 
from the House along with the President and First Lady and the 
Secretary of Education on numerous occasions. Those have been very 
  I would be very remiss if I failed to mention the commission that has 
been working on No Child Left Behind that provided us with a number of 
proposals, suggestions, advice on what needs to be done to make that 
even more effective. Those have been, again, worked on in a very 
bipartisan way to see which fit with all the other ideas we have. I 
think we will come up with a plan for that which will improve the 
system. It will eliminate some of the feeling that it is just about 
evaluating teachers and will give them more tools to know what their 
students are lacking so we do not leave whole groups of children, or 
individual children, without an education. That is the whole purpose of 
the program.
  We are also trying to work in the high school area, where we can 
eliminate dropouts and eliminate some of that remedial work which is 
needed when they get to college. That remedial education costs billions 
of dollars to parents and to taxpayers.
  Another important piece to this puzzle that we need to do is 
continuing education. We have passed unanimously through the Senate, 
twice over the last 3\1/2\ years, the Workforce Investment Act. This is 
an act which would train 900,000 people for higher skilled jobs or 
different jobs than they have held before, so they can retire and do 
something different and still be a contributing part of the workforce 
and continue to have revenue coming in. But we have never been able to 
conference that bill. I think that is a crime. We need to get it 
through once again, through the Senate, and get it conferenced.
  I know some of the concerns were what might happen in conference. Now 
it is our side that should have the concerns about what could happen in 
conference because, as we have seen in conference, actually the 
minority can be left out of the process. I hope that would not be the 
case. But there is a lot of devilment that could be done, and that is 
why we didn't get to conference the Workforce Investment Act. I kept 
assuring that would not happen in conference, but now the other side 
should know for sure that anything they were worried about the 
Republicans doing in conference will not happen. I will try to convince 
the Republicans that the Democrats will show equal courtesy and we will 
not have to worry about what they might do in that bill and we will 
wind up with something that will actually train people to higher 
skilled jobs so we don't have to outsource those jobs to other 
countries. That is what is happening now. We don't have this training 
process to the level of flexibility where it really serves the people 
in the new occupations that are coming up.
  The kids in school now will undoubtedly have more than a dozen 
different careers. Not different employers; that is real easy--you just 
quit one, move to an another, work essentially the same kind of job. 
That is not what I am talking about. I am talking about moving to a new 
career. Why is that essential? Because a lot of the jobs that are 
available today will not be available in the future. Out of those 14 
different occupations that a person will probably have, 9 of them 
haven't even been invented yet. That is how the world is changing. We 
have to be sure that the whole education process, from preschool to 
death, conforms to the new economy so people in the United States, 
citizens of the United States are the ones getting the good jobs; that 
we are not sending them, with the new technology, to other parts of the 
world. We can do it. We are a very innovative country.
  This bill we have done today will go a long way to helping in higher 
education, but what we focused mostly on was just the financing. There 
are a lot of pieces of higher education which go beyond that and which 
the chairman and I have been emphasizing to the House that they need to 
get done, and we are hoping to have some very firm dates on when they 
will get that done. This could get into a Presidential election 
situation if it goes much longer. That probably would not be productive 
for higher education or our kids, so we need to get it done right away.
  I have mentioned numerous times the things that have been left out of 
the reconciliation bill. I will not go back through all of those again, 
although I have some great charts, but I would emphasize again that 
needs to be done.
  I will mention one area again because this goes back to a story from 
my earlier days. My first child was applying for college. I had to face 
this formidable form as an accountant. As an accountant, I have trouble 
understanding not only parts of the form but parts of the worksheet. 
This is a typical Government thing. They give you a worksheet to be 
able to fill in a blank of the final form, and the worksheet is almost 
as difficult as the form. As an accountant, it is a little tough 
sometimes to know what is even supposed to go into the blanks, but that 
is OK because the Government always provides extensive instructions on 
how you can interpret the blanks you are supposed to fill in. Hopefully 
on the new one-page form we have they will not have to refer to 
extensive explanations.

  I think it is pretty clear what we have on the new ones. It is 
supplemented. Instead of taking pieces off of your income tax form to 
report on, you already have the form done, so the form can be submitted 
with it, and that has greater explanation than trying to do all of the 
math Worksheet B calls for. So we have simplified that greatly. But 
that is besides the fact that now it is very formidable, and that keeps 
a lot of people from ever applying for financial aid.
  I had the opportunity to fill out one of these when my first child 
was getting ready to go to college and was picking a fairly expensive 
college, and I thought maybe we can qualify for help, and the financial 
officer said: Yes, I think you probably can; you just have to fill out 
this little form.
  We filled it out. We were in the shoe business. We had a single shoe 
store. It was a family shoe store. My wife and I both worked there, and 
the kids worked there some of the time, and we had other people who 
worked for us,

[[Page S11262]]

too. We were going through all the crises that small businesses today 
have to deal with, like, how do you afford the insurance for your 
people? It is not fair to buy insurance for yourself unless you buy 
insurance for the people who work for you. We were going through a 
number of those crises. Anybody in small business knows there are those 
times when you wake up in the middle of the night with an ``O my word, 
how am I going to pay the bills today?''
  Aside from that, I filled out the form and got the results back and 
they said: You really don't qualify. There are two essential reasons. 
One is, if you sold off a fourth of your inventory each year, you 
wouldn't need the help. If you sell off a fourth of your inventory and 
your child makes it through school in 4 years--which is not standard, 
but I do want to say all three of my kids did graduate in 4 years--but 
if you sell off one-fourth of your inventory each year, you can afford 
to send your child to college without any financial help.
  I had to point out to them that if I sold off one-fourth of my 
inventory each 4 years, I would be out of business by the time my child 
  That is not quite fair, and hopefully we have made some corrections 
so that we won't be putting people out of business in order to get 
their kids through college, but we will be expecting them to make 
contributions to the expense of their education.
  The other surprise was we had made our kids work. We made them save a 
substantial piece of what they earned when they worked so they could 
pay part of their way to college. This same financial officer said to 
me: You know, she would have been better off if she had bought a car 
because that wouldn't count against her.
  What kind of incentive is that for the kids in this country? They 
really will appreciate their education more if they participate in 
their education. So I think if we can get that reauthorization part 
through, we will protect and incentivize kids to actually work toward 
their college education, so it will mean more to them as they go 
through, and that will probably cut down a little bit on how long it 
takes them to get through school because part of that money is theirs. 
I would like to see every kid be able to get an education and have some 
money left over when they get their education, not a whole bunch of 
loans. We will be able to help with that by passing this reconciliation 
conference report.
  I do have some concerns, as everybody does when they pass a bill. I 
am the only accountant in the Senate, so when we look at some of this 
stuff and the way we score things, I do have some difficulties with it. 
We need to be aware of them because these are going to come back to 
bite us later.
  One is the chart the Senator from New Hampshire used earlier, which 
shows how scoring works around here, and that is that you can provide 
benefits, and then if you can end the scoring at a particular point, 
you can drop off to a zero and show that you fully funded it.
  It is not going to work that way in reality. I do not know who is 
going to be in the majority when we get to 2012. Nobody does. But 
whoever is in the majority at 2012 has to figure out how to fill the 
gap of the dip in the chart, as well as take care of the inflation that 
has happened in the meantime, and, hopefully, greater Pell grants as a 
whole, in reality, at that point in time.
  Why am I concerned about this? Well, we have done some things with 
interest rates over a period of time that have had some of these same 
effects on students. We always try to figure out how we can get the 
lowest interest rate for kids who are going to college. And that is 
important. And a number of Senators, including the Presiding Officer, 
have pointed out the importance of that.
  Well, we got involved in interest rates actually when President 
Carter was in office, and interest rates rose to 18 percent and were 
going higher, and did go higher. We had no idea how much higher. We had 
no idea whether they would ever come down again.
  So Congress got involved with student loans and said: 6.8 percent is 
the highest that anybody is going to pay while they go to college, and 
we did kind of put some ends on that. In the meantime, of course, 
interest rates came back down. We went to variable rates, which allowed 
the Government to fluctuate more on interest rates. But each time, it 
becomes a problem for whoever is in the majority because you can pin 
the difficulty on them and say: `You have got to solve it. And no 
matter what solution you come up with, we are not going to like it, and 
we are going to make it into a campaign issue.'
  Well, I hope we do not do that all of the time. But it is important 
for people to realize that we are cutting the interest rates in this 
reconciliation bill we just did, and we are going to get them down to 
3.4 percent. But that is over a period of time. So students who are in 
college and just heard the discussion should not expect to go get a 
loan--or as soon as the President signs the bill--at 3.4 percent. That 
gets phased in. It will get down to 3.4 percent. But then it ends, and 
we run into the same situation that I pointed out a minute ago; that 
one party or the other is going to be in the majority at that time, and 
they are going to have to solve that problem of how we keep the 
interest rate at 3.4 percent or lower, or match up to higher rates, 
because they all have a cost.
  Now, how does that cost get handled? Well, it does not make a whole 
lot of difference to the banks because we subsidize them up to a level, 
and we change that from time to time too. The subsidy is what we have 
been talking about in this reconciliation bill. You can offer this 
lower rate to the students, and then we will provide a subsidy so that 
you make a reasonable rate of return. Now, we always have a little 
trouble deciding what that reasonable rate of return is, and that is 
what we are talking about.
  Two years ago, we cut that subsidy, and we cut it pretty severely and 
made billions in savings off of cutting that corporate subsidy.
  Now, at that time what we did is put half of the savings in the 
subsidy, which actually comes from the taxpayers,--You have got to 
understand that it is from the taxpayers that we are doing this--but we 
took half of that and we put it to deficit reduction, which is kind of 
a return to the taxpayers.
  We took the other half and did a number of things for students. We 
decreased loan origination fees to 0 percent. We put $8 billion into 
specialized kinds of Pell grants, which were the SMART and American 
Competitiveness Grants for science, technology, engineering, math, and 
some critical foreign languages. That is a real need for this country.
  If we do not address that need, we are going to have some difficult 
economic times in this country. So we said we have to get more young 
people involved in science, technology, engineering, and math. And we 
took care of the college portion of that, encouraging them with a 
smaller amount their freshman year, and then a little bit bigger in 
sophomore year, and a lot bigger in their junior and senior years if 
they would do science, technology, engineering, and math. That came to 
$8 billion.
  We also increased loan limits for freshmen and sophomores. We 
increased asset protection, and we increased auto zero to $20,000. That 
is the income level up to which you automatically get a full Pell 
grant. So we did a number things with the money for students. At that 
point in time we were criticized for a lot of things we did not do for 
students that could have been done, just as there will be criticism 
with this bill for things that could or could not be done.
  I do think we arrived at a good solution, one that will work, one 
that I am hopeful and pretty sure the President is going to sign, that 
will make a difference for young people. But I do want to emphasize 
that we do need to finish that reauthorization package. Without that, a 
lot of this does not work. It sounds good, but it does not work. So 
let's get the whole job done.
  Since 2004, we have extended the Higher Education Act eight different 
times. We have said: `What we have now is good enough, so we cannot 
reach any other kind of a decision. So let's just extend it again.' I 
do not want to have a ninth extension. I want to get the job done.
  There are some great things. We have hundreds of pages. The bill is 
that thick, for reauthorization, that does good things for students. 
This is the part we are talking about we have not done yet. This has 
stuff in it that needs to be done, and we can do it.

[[Page S11263]]

  The agreement in the Senate on this was 95 to 0. You don't get more 
bipartisan than 95 to 0. I am pretty sure if the other five people 
would have been here, it would been 100 to 0. That is agreement. That 
is because this desperately needs to be done. I am glad the House is 
going to take a look at it. In fact, the chairman told me that they 
would be using this bill as a blueprint.
  I assured him if he used that as a blueprint and took the wording 
that goes with it, it can be done reasonably. Around here we usually do 
not do that sort of thing, though, because each of us has to get a 
fingerprint on everything, and that slows down the process sometimes. 
But I suspect it will be fairly close to what we have done here. It 
needs to be done as soon as possible.
  Now, I began my thank-yous earlier. I want to finish my thank-yous 
and my speech. Besides Katherine McGuire and Beth Buehlmann on my 
staff, I wanted to thank Ann Clough, Adam Briddell, Amy Shank, Ilyse 
Schuman, Greg Dean, and Kelly Hastings.
  I would be very remiss if I did not thank the members of Senator 
Kennedy's staff for their hard work and cooperation: Michael Myers, 
Carmel Martin, JD LaRock, Missy Rohrbach, and Erin Renner.
  Finally, I would like to thank all of the members of the HELP 
Committee and their staffs for their hard work throughout this process. 
This has been one of the most contentious committees in years past. 
When we are working on education and health, this is one of the most 
cooperative committees in the Senate.
  We do intend to make progress in all four of the areas that we work 
in. We got the pensions area pretty well wrapped up last year. There 
has been a little technical correction portion that we have to get done 
  There are always different things in the pension area. But we made 
some significant changes in the labor area last year, too, that have 
come to light in recent weeks with the first change, the biggest change 
in mine safety in 28 years. We will be reviewing the tragedy that 
happened in Utah to see how that fits in with what we did or did not 
get accomplished and will look at future changes.
  But it took us 28 years to make the first major change. It will not 
hurt if it gets to 24 or 28 months before we get the reports in that 
help us to analyze any other changes that we need to make.
  Once again, I thank my colleague from Massachusetts, Senator Kennedy, 
for his tremendous effort, his tremendous knowledge, his capabilities 
to explain and come through with the ideas, sometimes compromises, but 
quite often a third way of doing things. It makes a huge difference in 
the result.
  I yield the floor.