Making college more affordable for everyone

Rep. Peter Roskam represents Illinois’ 6th Congressional District and serves on the House Ways and Means Committee. Below is an excerpt from an op-ed he published today at mySuburbanLife.com.

Summer has ended and that means it’s back to school time for families across the country.

For those parents who recently loaded up the car and dropped their kids off at college, the excitement of another year of school is tempered by another year of looming tuition bills and ever-increasing education expenses.

As parents, we want our kids to have every opportunity for the future, and higher education is important for their success. But the rising cost of a college degree is making it harder for students to get a quality, affordable education without being saddled with thousands of dollars in student loan debt. In the past five years, the cost of a college degree has jumped more than 27 percent for public four-year institutions and 29 percent for public two-year institutions, placing a degree completely out of reach for some and presenting a significant challenge to more middle class families every year. At a time when our economy is still weak from the recession, lawmakers must step up to ensure college remains affordable for our nation’s kids. That is why in July, my colleagues and I passed a number of common-sense, bipartisan bills aimed at addressing the cost of college for American families.

The cost of college has become much more than the advertised price of tuition, room and board. Fees and course materials add up, and navigating the endless bureaucracy of student loans and financial aid programs can be daunting. To take some of the guesswork out of financial planning, the House passed the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, which creates a consumer-tested College Dashboard, giving students and parents the tools to fully understand the total cost of college before deciding where to continue their education. Another bill, the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, provides interactive counseling through an online tool each year a student participates in a federal loan program. By increasing loan awareness and financial planning before and throughout the college experience, we can eliminate surprise expenses and ensure students work through available grant and scholarship options to shrink the size of their student loan.

For the full op-ed, click here

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