Today, the full House of Representatives passed the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 (HR 3221) by a 253-171 vote. The bill utilizes savings from the elimination of the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) in favor of 100% college/university participation in the Direct Loan program. The legislation would index future Pell increases to the Consumer Price Index plus 1%. Financial institutions that provide student loans have fought the elimination of FFELP, as it essentially removes them from the federal student aid market. Funding recouped from the elimination of FFELP will also fund much of President Obama’s college access and persistence plan, as well as a number of additional initiatives.
The University of Washington’s Office of Student Financial Aid, and Office of Federal Relations have been active in providing members of the Washington Congressional delegation with feedback on HR 3221. There remains room to make improvements on the House bill, particularly in its provision of a College Access and Completion Fund, where funding provided to states could result in increased regulatory control by states over institutions of higher education. The legislation is now being worked on the Senate, and is expected to receive full consideration later this fall or early in 2010.