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Murray Calls on Bush to Make College More Affordable for Every American

May 02 2002

Blasts Administration proposal to increase student loan payments

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – At a packed rally on Capitol Hill today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray joined fellow Democrats and education advocates to blast the Bush Administration's proposed cuts to higher education.

Following remarks by Stacey Valentin, a Western Washington University student who has incurred the national average of $17,000 in student loans, Murray denounced the cuts as a "tax on middle class families."

"This Administration pledged to 'leave no child behind,'" Murray said. "But the cuts they are making to education priorities like student loans will leave millions of students like Stacey behind."

On Sunday, word leaked out of the President's proposal to slash $1.3 billion from federal student loan programs. This plan would prevent students from consolidating their loans at a fixed rate – a move that could cost graduates an additional $10,000 over the life of their loans.

"To put the President's education cut in perspective, we should look back to last year," Senator Murray said. "The cost of the President's tax cut was $1.3 trillion – or one thousand times greater than the savings he would find under this proposal. Yet the cost to thousands of graduates and their families would be devastating."

Despite its mantra to "leave no child behind," the Administration has proposed cuts to education priorities like class size reduction, special education and Pell Grants.

Last year, President Bush proposed no increase in Pell Grants while Democrats succeeded in raising the top limit from $3,750 to $4,000 per year. This year, the President wants to cut Pell grants to $3,900, but Democrats are again leading an effort to increase them to $4,500.

"I hope we can educate the President, so he understands that we must support our students and graduates and make college more affordable and more accessible for every American."