Student Aid Cuts Pass By Two Votes -- Bass and Bradley


CONCORD, NH - Yesterday, in a 216-214 vote, Congressmen
Bass and Bradley helped to pass the biggest cut to college aid
in U.S. history. Students and parents from across New Hampshire
had asked their Congressmen to vote against the $12.7 billion cut
to college aid, but Bass and Bradley instead chose to vote along
party lines.

Bass and Bradley voted for a similar cut before the holidays, but
had a chance to reverse their vote yesterday.

"I, like many college students, depend on private loans to pay for
college," said Nicholas Gunn, junior at Plymouth State University
who traveled to a Franklin town hall meeting earlier this month to
present his concerns to Congressman Bass in person. Bass was

"I don't understand how they can justify voting to cut funding
from financial aid programs when so many people rely on these
program to pay for college."

Students at seven campuses across New Hampshire circulated a
petition, gathering hundreds of signatures calling on the congressmen
to reverse their previous vote for the student aid cuts. The petitions
were delivered to Bass and Bradley's New Hampshire offices yesterday.

The legislation includes a wide variety of cuts to college aid
programs, including a hike in interest rates on parent loans from
7.9% to 8.5% in July of this year; a 1% "insurance fee" on all loans;
an extension on the practice of allowing lenders to charge excessive,
above-market interest rates on many student and parent loans; and a
$2.2 billion cut in the resources used to process applications and
ensure that aid is delivered to students correctly.

"It imposes a series of pretty draconian costs increases on borrowers
and their families in the form of increased up-front fees, said Barmak
Nassirian, Associate Executive Director of the American Association
of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officials.

"There are aspects of the legislation that strike us as favoring the
loan industry at the expense of borrowers. Students are being asked
to sacrifice at the same time as the loan industry gets off scot-free."

Seventy percent of the cuts will be shouldered directly by parents
and students who borrow money to pay for college. For the typical
parent borrowing money for their students, the hike in interest rates
alone would amount to an additional cost of $680 (average parent
loan: $9,416 over 15 years). In New Hampshire, 37,666 students
currently borrow money to attend college.

The $12.7 billion cut in student aid makes up the largest piece of the
budget reconciliation bill narrowly passed by the House yesterday.
The legislation also includes cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and other
programs, and is paired with expensive tax breaks for a net impact of
increasing the budget deficit by $66 billion next year.

"To take 12.7 billion away from our availability and raise interest
rates so that money could be given back to the wealthy - I can't
understand it," said Bryan Lamirande, who traveled to Littleton
earlier this month to attend a town hall meeting and ask Congressman
Bass to vote against the package. Bass was dismissive.

"You're adding to the burden that myself as a parent and my children
have to bear to go to college to have a future in this country."