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Bonamici Leads Legislation to Make Higher Education More Affordable, Accessible

October 15, 2019
Press Release
Comprehensive update of the Higher Education Act includes Bonamici provisions to improve student loan system, support students

WASHINGTON, DC [10/15/19] – Today Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Chair of the Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, and her colleagues introduced legislation to make higher education more affordable and accessible.

Bonamici championed many of the improvements found in the College Affordability Act, which is a comprehensive update of the Higher Education Act. The legislation includes four provisions that Bonamici previously introduced as standalone bills.

“I hear from many people who tell me that higher education is out of reach, or who are struggling with burdensome student loan debt,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “These conversations have guided my efforts to improve access to higher education, and I’m proud of the work we have done crafting the College Affordability Act. This comprehensive update will provide students with the support they need, and make sure that people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to receive a quality, affordable higher education.”

Bonamici’s contributions to the College Affordability Act include the following:

  • Updating the Federal Work Study (FWS) program to better meet the needs of students
    • Invests in low-income students by increasing funding for FWS and revising the distribution formula to allocate funds based on student need and Pell Grant aid
    • Rewards institutions that enroll and graduate high numbers of Pell Grant students
    • Allows students to earn FWS wages during periods of non-enrollment and requires institutions to use some FWS funds for work-based learning opportunities
    • Allows students to earn FWS wages while participating in their institution’s educator preparation residency program, an evidence-based model to address teacher shortages and diversify the educator workforce
  • Improving the student loan system
    • Helps student loan borrowers automatically enroll in affordable repayment plans
    • Automates the annual process of updating borrowers’ income information while enrolled in income-driven repayment plans
    • Removes burdensome paperwork requirements for borrowers who are totally and permanently disabled
  • Supporting students with disabilities
    • Streamlines the process for college students with disabilities to access needed support services
    • Saves families hundreds or even thousands of dollars by allowing them to use existing documentation of a disability when seeking accommodations on campus
  • Strengthening financial counseling for student borrowers
    • Improves the timing, frequency, and content of the financial counseling students are required to receive when they take out federal student loans


These provisions are from Bonamici’s Opportunities for Success Act, SIMPLE Act, RISE Act, and Empowering Students through Financial Counseling Act.

Bonamici has also long advocated for many other provisions in the College Affordability Act, including increasing Pell grant funding, improving and expanding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, supporting school-based child care centers, providing for stronger accountability measures for institutions, and creating an emergency grant program for students who encounter unexpected financial barriers.

More details about the College Affordability Act can be found here.