Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs



U.S. Rep. Bill Foster
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster



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News Release

Contact: Joe King, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-4299

October 8, 2009

Foster discusses higher education funding
with NIU students

DeKalb, Ill. — Congressman Bill Foster (D-Batavia) visited the campus of Northern Illinois University Monday, Oct. 5, to tell students of his support for efforts aimed at holding down the cost of higher education.

“From tuition to dorm rooms to books, the expenses can often seem overwhelming. Since my election to Congress, I’ve worked to make college more affordable and accessible to every student who wishes to attain a higher education,” said Foster, father to two recent college graduates.

Speaking before more than 50 students, Foster told them about the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act that he recently supported in the House of Representatives. The bill was approved in that chamber and now has moved to the Senate.

The bill, Foster said, represents the largest single increase in college aid in American history.

Among other things, the bill would:

  • Increase Pell Grants, which are used by more than seven million students across the nation, to $6,900 by 2019 – today, they are $5,350. 
  • Invest $3 billion nationally to bolster college access and completion support programs for students.
  • Increase funding for the College Access Challenge Grant program, resulting in at least $5.4 million a year for the next five years in Illinois.
  • Strengthen and expand the Perkins Loan program, a campus-based program that provides low-cost federal loans to students.
  • Keep interest rates low on need-based or subsidized federal student loans.
  • Simplify the student financial aid form to allow students and families to apply for aid using the information on their tax returns.

The bill accomplishes all of those goals, while at the same time reducing the deficit, Foster said.

“As someone who is concerned with fiscal responsibility, I am pleased to say that this legislation makes investments in education at no cost to taxpayers,” he said. “The program is fully paid for by savings resulting from ‘cutting out the middle man’ and providing government loans directly to individuals. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, by reforming the federal loan system, this legislation will save taxpayers $87 billion over ten years.”

Foster also told students that he is working on a project that he hopes will lead to the creation of free “open source textbooks” which would be available to college students via the Internet. Such books would not only be free, but also always up to date, he said.

“I introduced legislation to encourage participation in open source education and in the future will introduce legislation to continue this important work,” Foster said. “I will work hard to advance this idea, as I firmly believe this is a common-sense way to reduce the costs of college.”

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