07.24.07

Burr Applauds Passage of Higher Education Bill

Burr amendments included in package

U.S. Senator Richard Burr today praised the passage of S.1642, the Higher Education Amendments of 2007. The bill will ensure parents and students have more extensive information about college tuition and fees, continue support for North Carolina's ten Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and require colleges to establish codes of conduct for student loans. The bill will also promote innovative models for teacher preparation.

"I am pleased that the Senate acted quickly today to reauthorize the Higher Education Act and to include amendments I offered to the legislation," Burr said. "To keep a competitive edge in the world economy, America's youth must be prepared for the jobs of today and the future, jobs which increasingly require more than a high school diploma. Furthermore, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act is important for strengthening the federal investment in North Carolina's colleges and universities."

The legislation includes two amendments sponsored by Senator Burr. One amendment would expedite a study on simplifying the FAFSA, the form parents and students must complete to determine eligibility for federal student aid. The current FAFSA asks 127 questions contained on five pages, a form longer than the Income Tax 1040EZ form, which contains 37 questions on a single page. The amendment would require a study group of federal officials and representatives of higher education to submit recommendations for changes to Congress within the next year. This complements the work of a recent task force put together by Erskine Bowles, President of the University of North Carolina, to determine how to simplify the application for financial aid.

Burr's other amendment would require those institutions of higher education that prepare future teachers to set annual goals for increasing the number of teachers in shortage areas such as math, science, special education, and instruction of limited English proficient students. It would also require goals for more closely linking the instruction provided by colleges of education to prospective teachers with the needs new teachers face in the classroom. Many elementary and secondary schools lack a supply of qualified teachers. Burr's amendment recognizes that quality teachers are the most important factor to a child's academic achievement and the critical connection between higher education and K-12 education—colleges of education—for improving the supply of qualified teachers.

The legislation will also strengthen the GEAR UP and TRIO programs to ensure low-income and first generation college students are prepared to enroll and succeed in college and expand the Academic Competitiveness Grants so that more community college students are eligible.