Vitter’s View: Reaching higher for our education system

As August quickly approaches and the end of summer nears, students across Louisiana will prepare for their return to school in the fall.Because our college students are the future workforce and leaders of the state, an important factor in securing a bright future for Louisiana is enhancing higher education policies and programs. Recently, the U.S. Senate passed the Higher Education Amendments of 2007. This legislation made improvements to our education laws, such as providing more information to students and parents about college tuition and fees, simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and increasing Pell grants.

One of the main objectives of this legislation is to increase the amount of information available to students and their parents so that they can make better informed decisions about their higher education choices. The bill also aims to make colleges and universities more accountable for the cost of tuition. The cost of higher education is increasing at a rapid pace, making it harder for many students and families to afford it.

The bill directs the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Commissioner of Education Statistics, and higher education institutions to develop price indices to address this problem. By using price indices, the Secretary of Education will be able to inform citizens when higher education institutions have increased tuition and fees and when those increases outpace those of comparable institutions.

Another important issue the bill addresses is Pell grants. The Federal Pell grant program is the largest source of grant funding for higher education, and this legislation increases the annual Pell grant amount by $2,250 over the next for years, reaching $6,300 for the 2011-2012 academic school year. It is estimated that this grant program will provide almost $14 billion to 5.3 million low-income students in fiscal year 2007.

Each and every Louisianan has the potential to expand their educational pursuits. From college-aged youths to students of all ages seeking to learn a new trade or expand their skill set, no one should be discouraged from pursing his or her educational dreams.


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