‘FED UP’ Bill Grounded by Partisan PoliticsA flare-up of partisan tempers may derail a bill to simplify some federal financial aid rules.
The “FED UP” bill designed to clarify financial aid rules was expected to sail through the House of Representatives in July. But Democrats backed away from the plan after they were unable to seek amendments prior to a final vote, which required a two-thirds majority for passage.
The bill had easily cleared a House committee, but Democrats later complained that they had no chance to offer other amendments before a final floor vote. Republicans were angered by the action.
Democrats would “rather help themselves by playing politics than help low-income students by improving college aid programs,” says Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
But Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., senior Democrat on the panel, had a different view. “We will not stand by while the Republican leadership abuses the legislative process,” he says.
The bill would have clarified that Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) can apply for federal HSI grants without waiting two years between applications. It also would clarify that federal scholarship aid can go to low-income and minority students for law school.
Another key provision would have clarified requirements that students must repay part of their financial aid if they drop out of college. Under the proposed change, students would have to repay less of their grant money.
Democrats said they also wanted to insert provisions to forgive education loans for victims of Sept. 11 and for individuals who want to pursue teaching careers.
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