Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009 | 1:55 a.m.
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- Higher ed officials call stimulus waiver shortsighted (3-20-2009)
- Hope reigns at higher education town hall (3-18-2009)
- Titus to teachers: State needs long-term fix (2-19-2009)
Rep. Dina Titus held a back-to-school party of her own Tuesday afternoon at the College of Southern Nevada’s Henderson campus, where she highlighted congressional efforts to make higher education more affordable.
Speaking to a small crowd of students, faculty, parents and reporters, Titus (D-Nev.) discussed a handful of bills passed in recent months that aim to make borrowing for college easier and more affordable.
“As an educator, I know the value of an education,” said Titus, a former UNLV professor. “I saw it every day in the classroom. It is certainly the key to our being competitive in the global economy.”
Titus listed bills that will decrease interest rates on student loans from 6 percent to 3.4 percent by 2011, a repayment program that caps student loan payments based on an individual’s income, a $600 increase in Pell grants to $5,350, a $700 increase in the college income tax credit to $2,500, and a new GI Bill that will help veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq pay for college.
“I don’t have to tell you all that in recent years, as times have gotten tougher, the cost of a college education has gone up,” Titus said. “The more you need (an education) to prepare for a global economy, the harder it is to get.”
Sally Caspers, an Air Force veteran and graduate student at UNLV, said the new GI Bill is a reassuring gesture of support to veterans. She is a member of a committee at UNLV that is exploring how the university can better meet the needs of its veteran students, something Caspers cautioned will take more than money.
Caspers said the extra effort to help veteran students adjust to college life is well worth the investment, not just for the veterans, but for all students on campus.
“What we find is that (veterans) are valuable members of a campus community,” she said. “They’re valuable participants in classroom discussions and we want to make them feel welcome.”
Titus said she hopes the new GI Bill will also provide an economic benefit to the country, saying that the original GI Bill put $7 into the economy for every $1 it received.
“It would be nice to see that kind of return again so that we can see this as a ‘two-fer,’” she said.