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Pelosi: Student Loan Bill Makes Single Largest Increase in College Aid Since GI Bill Revolutionized America

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon supporting the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007.  Below are her remarks:

'I thank the gentleman for yielding.  I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your great leadership in bringing us to this historic day.

'I rise today in strong support of the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007. 

'In 1944, when the GI Bill of Rights became law, our nation made a decision to invest in the future.  It was an investment that transformed the lives of millions of Americans.  They, in turn, transformed America to the benefit of all Americans; indeed they built America. 

'Over the years, the GI Bill has offered opportunity and economic security through education to more than 20 million of the brave men and women who wore our nation's uniform.  It has given America hundreds of thousands of engineers, teachers, and doctors.  And it has given us a model for the value in investing in the education of our people for our country. 

'Today, with this legislation, we will make the single largest increase in college aid since the GI Bill of Rights revolutionized America.

'It is an investment to a bright future for our children, just as the GI Bill had been an investment in a bright future for our nation.  Any economist will tell you that any dollar spent on education is a dollar that makes a big return to our Treasury.  In fact, no dollar invested or spent, no tax credit, no financial initiative you can name brings more money to the Treasury than investing in education. 

'In today's competitive job market, a college education often makes all the difference. Americans with college degrees can earn 60 percent more than those with only high school diplomas.  So in the interest of individuals, this is very important.

'Indeed, higher education is the single best investment our young people can make in themselves, their families can make in them, and our country can make in our future.

'Financial barriers will prevent 4.4 million high school graduates from attending a four-year public college over the next decade, and prevent another 2 million high school graduates from attending any college at all. 

'Cutting interest rates in half will make it possible for more Americans to achieve their economic potential.  And this is especially important for strengthening the middle class. By increasing the maximum Pell Grant scholarship by $500, nearly 6 million students will be given help to afford the expanding cost of college.

'The cost of this bill is the equivalent of six weeks in Iraq.  Six weeks in Iraq.  Imagine that.  For six weeks in Iraq, we can expand higher education to all who wish to achieve it in America.  That investment has a return to our Treasury, to grow our economy, to prepare us for the future.

'This legislation is an important part of our innovation agenda, where we invest in many more scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.  And by giving opportunities to highly qualified teachers in our classrooms for this innovation agenda, this provides an essential component for a bright future for our nation. 

'We will provide upfront tuition for highly qualified teachers who agree to teach in high-needs areas.  We will increase loan forgiveness for those who practice civic responsibility, encouraging students to give back to their communities as teachers, librarians, child welfare workers, and public sector employees.

'Today, we are not only relieving the debt of America's students, but doing so in a way that does not heap mountains of national debt on top of our young people.  The legislation keeps our promise to pay-as-you-go, with no new deficit spending.  Democrats believe that is just as essential as ensuring America's students have the opportunity to attend college.

'The College Cost Reduction Act strengthens the future of our students, and it strengthens our nation.  I think that this is an historic day, Mr. Chairman and my colleagues, because it is a day about the American dream.  It's a day about expanding our opportunity in our country.  It is a day that recognizes that the best dollar that we can spend is a dollar spent on education.  And it recognizes that education is a key to a brilliant future, not only for the self-fulfillment of our people, but for the success of our country. 

'Thank you, Mr. Miller and members of the committee for helping us honor that commitment to future generations.  I urge our colleagues to support this important and historic legislation.'