With a 19.4 percent increase in applications for financial aid at UC Berkeley and an expected tuition increase in the fall, students are feeling the effects of the slumping economy.
However, they may finally get some relief. On July 31, Congress reauthorized H.R. 4137, The College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2008, authored by Representative George Miller (D-CA), which would make information on paying for college more accessible and affordable. This bill is designed to rein in price increases, restore integrity to student loan programs, simplify the process to receive financial aid, make textbooks more affordable, increase aid for veterans and military families, and provide equal opportunities for students with disabilities, among other things.
“This legislation authorizes a study of the inequities of the current need analysis formula that many of us have argued was very unfair to students who live in high-cost areas of the country,” said Cheryl Resh, director of financial aid at UC Berkeley. “A household income of $40,000 simply does not go as far in Oakland as it does in Des Moines, Iowa, and the current formula has never taken that into account—giving families in both areas the same “expected family contribution” for their child’s education.”
Miller says that the legislation is necessary and that the timing was important.
“I am delighted that the Senate has joined the House in swiftly passing this landmark legislation,” said Miller in a press release, following the passage of the bill in the Senate. “This legislation will empower America’s college consumers—students and families—by providing them with comprehensive information on tuition and textbook prices and key financial protections when paying for a college degree. For students and parents, who continue to face soaring college costs amidst rough economic times, these reforms could not come soon enough. I hope that the president will join our continuing efforts to make college more affordable and accessible by quickly signing this bill into law.”
President George Bush has indicated that he will sign the act later this month, after it passed in the House and Senate with large margins.