Friday, September 14, 2007

College Students Get Needed Help,
Inhofe One of Twelve to Vote No!

OKLAHOMA CITYOklahoma’s U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe should explain why he chose to protect wealthy bankers when he could have voted for a popular bill to increase financial aid for college students, Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Dr. Ivan Holmes said today.

Inhofe was one of only twelve U.S. Senators who voted against a bill that President Bush says he will sign to expand access to college student loans and grant assistance for thousands of low income students. The expanded assistance is paid for by cutting almost $20 billion in excessive fees to banks and other lenders who make student loans. The Senate approved the measure, 79-12, and it passed the House of Representatives, 292-97.

“By making the student loan program about college students instead of the banks, the Democratic Congress has made a big difference for parents and students who struggle to put enough money together to pay for college,” Holmes said.

The bill that was sent to the President reduces interest rates on federally backed student loans to poor and middle-income students from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent over the next four years. It also increases the maximum Pell grant, which goes to the poorest college students, from $4,310 a year to $5,400 by 2012. It also establishes a loan forgiveness program for college graduates who work for ten years in certain public service professions, such as teaching or nursing.

The student assistance package also reduces the federal deficit. By cutting generous subsidies to banks and other lenders that were contracted by the Bush Administration to administer the student loan program, the bill offsets costs of the student loan expansion and dedicates approximately $750 million for deficit reduction.

“Inhofe continues to paint himself as a ‘true’ conservative and deficit hawk, but his rhetoric doesn’t match his actions and this vote once again proves it. Inhofe could have voted to reduce the deficit and help average families, but instead he sided with the banking industry,” said Holmes. The latest Federal Election Commission report indicates that Inhofe received $10,000 from the American Bankers Association PAC so far in 2007.

“More Oklahoma students will have access to a college education in the years ahead no thanks to Jim Inhofe,” Holmes said. “Oklahomans demand to know when Jim Inhofe is going to stop pandering to special interests and start helping working families.”

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