September 24, 2007

DC Tuition Aid Program may get Income Cap

Posted in Legislation Affecting Students at 8:32 AM by Joe From Boston

The Washington Post has an interesting article about recent proposed legislative changes to the Washington DC tuition aid program.  It will be interesting to see what ends up happening!

Tuition Aid Program May Get Income Test

By Valerie Strauss

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 21, 2007; Page B05

Earlier this week, the Senate thwarted the District’s bid for voting rights in Congress. Now, city officials are conceding that they cannot stop a senator from forcing a change they oppose in a D.C. college tuition assistance program.

Officials said yesterday that they are upset about an effort by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to create an income test for participation in the program but that they can’t risk losing the entire program by fighting him.

In 2000, the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant Program began providing financial aid to college-bound city residents, regardless of income, at all public and some private schools in the country.

Because the District lacks a state university system and has only one public college, Congress decided that city residents should have the same opportunities to attend college as other Americans. Each state has a public higher-education system that costs less for its residents.

But Coburn decided that he wanted to bar families earning more than $1 million from participating in the program, which elected city officials said was contrary to a key purpose of the program.

“If you are Bill Gates, who lives in the state of Washington, your kids can go the University of Washington at in-state tuition rates,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), referring to the billionaire who founded Microsoft. “Our kids should have the same opportunities as other Americans.”

Under the program, D.C. residents attending any state university are eligible for up to $10,000 a year, with a limit of $50,000. Those attending private schools in Maryland and Virginia, as well as historically black colleges, are eligible for grants of $2,500 a year with a $12,500 cap.

More than 26,000 grants have been disbursed to nearly 10,000 students since the program began, at a cost of about $141 million. Sixty-eight percent of recipients have come from families with low or very low incomes. Thirty-eight percent have been the first in their family to attend college.

College attendance by city residents has increased more than 50 percent under the program, and President Bush has increased funding for it every year, Norton said.

Created to give D.C. residents more opportunities for higher education while providing an incentive to stay in the city, the program was to expire this year. The House passed its version of a bill in May to extend the program through 2012, without an income cap, drawing support from 98 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of Republicans.

But Coburn, operating under Senate rules that allow a single senator to block legislation, held up the bill until he could win approval from congressional leaders to add his amendment about income.

Fearing that the program would run out of funding, Democrats agreed to put Coburn’s income amendment into the Senate bill, Norton and other officials said. It passed unanimously Tuesday.


1 Comment »

  1. […] Original post by moniqueleonard […]

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