05.07.08

Enzi Celebrates Presidential Signing of Measure to Ensure Access to Student Loans Urges Swift Completion of HEA Reauthorization to Expand Access to Higher Education

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Ranking Member of the SenateHealth, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today praised President Bushfor swiftly signing into law legislation to ensure that students and parents can continue toaccess student loans for higher education through the Federal Family Education Loan(FFEL) program. “As we speak, students and parents across the country are in the process ofapplying for federal financial aid to help pay next year’s college tuition,” Enzi said,following the bill’s signing today. “We acted swiftly to preserve their access to studentloans, and ensure that federal student loan programs are able to meet additional studentloan needs.” Enzi said that lenders need reassurance of their ability to originate FFEL loans andthat without it, some may leave the program. He said the “Ensuring Continued Access toStudent Loans Act of 2008,” H.R. 5715, will shore up confidence in the market. Itaddresses concerns about potential turmoil in student loans so that lenders stay in theFFEL program, and students and parents continue to have access to the loans they need.“While not perfect, this bill will go a long way toward restoring the confidenceneeded for the federal student loan market to work,” Enzi said. “We accomplish this atno cost to the government.” Additionally, the bill provides support for American Competitiveness Grants forstudents who take rigorous high school courses and major in science, technology,engineering, math and critical foreign languages. “At a time when our economy needs more individuals with knowledge and skillsin these areas, this bill provides low-income college students with the means to besuccessful in these high-need, high-reward fields,” Enzi added. The Senate passed H.R. 5715 last week by unanimous consent, and the House ofRepresentatives approved the bill by a 388-21 vote. Enzi said that addressing the potential challenges in the student loan markets bypassing H.R. 5715 is a good step, but that Congress must now enact a comprehensivereauthorization of the Higher Education Act. He urged members of the Senate and Houseof Representatives to reach agreement on a reauthorization bill because it is critical toexpand access to college, protect students from bad actors in the student loan industry,and provide students with clear information they need to understand and manage theirdebts. “We are very close to reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. I’m hopeful thatwe can reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills and send a finalHEA reauthorization bill to the President for his signature very soon,” Enzi said. “Wehave kicked this can down the road long enough.” ####

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