Lowey, Pace University President Convene Roundtable on College Affordability and Accessibility

August 30, 2018
Press Release
Congresswoman warns of “partisan, mean-spirited” Republican bill that would “cut $15 billion from federal student aid while increasing the cost of a college education,” pledges to protect federal investments in higher education.

PLEASANTVILLE, NY – Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY17/Rockland-Westchester) and Pace University President Marvin Krislov were joined today by college and graduate school students and administrators at a roundtable discussion on college affordability and accessibility, including the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, dangerous Republican legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

“As colleges open for the fall semester, it’s as important as ever that we redouble our efforts to tackle the rising costs of higher education and the crushing burdens of student debt,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “Making college affordable so that every young person can have the training to pursue their dreams used to be a bipartisan belief in Washington, and yet, House Republicans are currently pushing a partisan, mean-spirited bill that would cut $15 billion from federal student aid while increasing the cost of a college education. This bill is, quite simply, an assault on the financing of higher education as we know it. Rest assured I am fighting to prevent this bill from becoming law and will continue working to protect federal investments in higher education.”

AUDIO of Congresswoman Lowey’s remarks is available here.

“At Pace University, we pride ourselves on providing access to a quality education for ambitious, hardworking students regardless of economic background,” said Pace President Marvin Krislov. “Federal financial aid is a key part of the funding mix for our students, and we’re deeply appreciative of Congresswoman Nita Lowey for convening this important conversation and for her continued commitment to a robust system of federal financial aid.”

“Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Pell Grants, subsidized undergraduate loans, and income-contingent repayment plans make college more affordable and more accessible to millions of community college students nationwide. Current proposals in the Higher Education Reauthorization bill would cut federal student aid, thereby shrinking the talent pipeline into high-demand jobs that stimulate economic growth,” said Dr. Belinda S. Miles, President of Westchester Community College.

“I always wanted to be a nurse and I am very excited to be graduating next year,” said Emerald Rodriguez, a senior in Pace University’s College of Health Professions. “Having access to federal financial aid programs on top of the financial aid package I received at Pace made it possible. I just hope future students have the opportunity to access these programs to pursue their dreams just as I have.”

“As a recent college student, and the mother of two sons who are currently in college, I do not believe it is a good idea to increase loan rates,” said Shelly Connor, a recent graduate of both Westchester Community College and New York University. “Limiting the amount of loans, and eliminating loan forgiveness, would make education less accessible for many students, especially those attending community college.”

The PROSPER Act would increase the cost of a higher education by consolidating many currently available federal student loans into a more expensive loan for students. Proposed changes in the PROSPER Act include:

  • Elimination of in-school interest subsidy for middle-and-low-income students
  • A new annual limit on loans for graduate students ($28,500 per year, aggregate limit of $150,000) and for parents ($12,500 per year, total of $56,250 per child)
  • Elimination of loan forgiveness
  • Restrictions on income-based-repayment and elimination of Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The PROSPER Act would particularly hurt students with exceptional financial need. Forty years ago, the maximum Pell Grant covered about three-fourths of the cost of a four-year public university. Today, the maximum award only covers 29 percent of the cost, forcing students to take on additional debt. 

Participants in the roundtable included: Dr. Belinda Miles, President of Westchester Community College, and financial aid and enrollment administrators from Westchester Community College, Dominican College, Purchase College, Manhattanville College, Mercy College, and New York Medical College.