On March 18, Congress coupled the Student Aid bill with health reform legislation to advance President Obama’s two major domestic policy issues, the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act (H.R. 4872). NASW strongly supports this bill and has tirelessly advocated for the creation of public policies that make health care and higher education more affordable and accessible for all Americans. The higher education provisions are expected to generate significant savings by ending lender subsidies to boost Pell Grant scholarships, keep interest rates on federal loans affordable, increase the number of students who enter and complete college.
The House passed the bill on March 21, and the Senate is expected to vote later this week. While there is generally strong support for the bill among Democrats, it has no Republican support and is considered controversial by some. A few Senators are concerned that banks and some lenders will jeopardize their long term viability by producing fewer loans and many higher education institutions, in anticipation of this legislation, have already increased their direct federal loan lending to students. In spite of these differences, the legislation is expected to pass. NASW believes that this legislation will make obtaining a higher education easier for thousands of social work students by reducing their existing financial debt or reducing their dependence on student loans. For more information about our advocacy efforts on loan forgiveness go to www.socialworkers.org/loanforgiveness