Congress may be on the verge of passing the most expansive education legislation since No Child Left Behind.
If the Senate approves the reconciliatory bill for the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010, it will be approving an attachment that eliminates student loan reliance on private lenders and requires all institutions of higher education to switch to the Direct Loan Program.
The bill also provides $36 billion to funding new Pell Grants and more than $4 billion to historically black colleges and community colleges.
The House passed the original form of this legislation Sept. 17 in a 253-171 vote. However, when the Senate failed to take up the bill, it laid in deadlock for more than six months.
Congressional Democrats proposed that the text of the original education act be attached in the health care reconciliation bill.
Because the House passed the original Senate health care bill, the subsequential passage of the reconciliatory bill added final amendments. The Senate only needs to pass the bill with a majority.
New York’s junior Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has pledged her support for the legislation.
“Student debt is at an all-time high, and President Obama’s reform will directly help more than 67,000 New York middle-class families afford the cost of college,” Bethany Lesser, a media representative for the senator, said.
The legislation has yet to be passed into law, but officials at Ithaca College have already enacted the policy.
Eric Maguire, the vice president of enrollment management, said the college enacted the policy in January to expedite the policy change.
“It is a move that typically requires several months to make … we wanted to make sure we gave ourselves plenty of time so our students would not be impacted,” Maguire said.
Freshman Jesse Maeshiro said she does not believe the legislation will greatly affect her.
“I don’t think it will necessarily affect how I pay for college that much because most of my loans are not from private companies,” she said.