Washington, D.C. – This week,Alaska Congressman Don Young joined Congressmen Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) as original cosponsors of Congressman Antonio Delgado’s (D-NY) H.R. 4216 — the bipartisan Strengthening Financial Aid for Students Act (FAFSA). This legislation aims to increase opportunities in higher education by expanding aid to non-traditional students who must work while pursuing their degree or take time-off to care for family or other to address hardships. Strengthening the FAFSA program would empower a greater number of students to access higher education by extending their lifetime Pell Grant eligibility and fortifying the Income Protection Allowance program.
“For many students in Alaska and across our nation, higher education can open countless doors of opportunity and it should be available to all who wish to pursue it,” said Congressman Don Young. “The Strengthening Financial Aid for Students Act takes important steps to make sure our students have the resources they need to finish college and can do so within their budgets without needlessly going into overly-burdensome debt. I am proud to support this bipartisan legislation and thank the co-leads for their leadership on behalf of our young people. Alaskan students have my commitment that I will continue working to ensure that they can achieve their dreams of higher education and are properly equipped to enter our workforce.”
“Every student deserves access to education – and too many New York students are saddled with prohibitive debt. Today, student debt in the U.S. totals more than $1.5 trillion, and in New York State the average student-loan debt per borrower grew by 36% from 2007 to 2017. This debt crisis prevents and delays graduates from starting businesses, purchasing farms, buying homes, beginning families, and saving for retirement,” said Congressman Antonio Delgado. “That’s why I’m introducing bipartisan legislation to increase the Income Protection Allowance and extend students’ lifetime Pell Grant eligibility, allowing students increased flexibility to pursue educational opportunities. I’m pleased to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to introduce Strengthening FAFSA to give more students in Upstate New York and across the country access to higher education.”
“Many students go to school while working, raising a family, or pursuing other goals, causing their degrees to take longer and cost more. The Strengthening Financial Aid for Students Act increases support for these students, as well as those pursuing traditional paths, by increasing the Pell Grant awards and availability. Access to education is essential to the success of our country, and I am proud to be a part of this bill that gives more students in South Jersey, and throughout the country better access to educational opportunities,” said Congressman Jeff Van Drew.
“Working students should not lose financial aid for simply trying to cover their basic needs, nor should dire hardship lead to an exhaustion of Pell Grant eligibility,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick. “Congress must seek solutions to the student debt crisis facing our country, and this bipartisan legislation is a step in the right direction.”
Strengthening FAFSA aims to allow more non-traditional students to access critical financial aid programs. This legislation would increase the number of semesters that a student is eligible to receive Pell Grant funding from 12 semesters to 14 semesters. Many students exhaust their Pell Grant eligibility before they are able to complete their program, often because of non-transferrable credits, the need to care for family members, and in extreme cases, attending fraudulent institutions. Strengthening FAFSA would also raise the allowable income threshold for aid eligibility, or the income protection allowance (IPA). Income for working or non-traditional students shouldn’t count against them when it comes to student aid eligibility—Strengthening FAFSA enacts a 35 percent increase to the IPA threshold, therefore shielding more of working students income from offsets to financial aid.