|For Immediate Release||June 20, 2000|
Today, President Clinton is hosting an event at the White House to commemorate the passage of the District of Columbia College Access Act of 1999, which helps to level the playing field for the young people of D.C. by expanding opportunities for affordable higher education at colleges and universities across the nation. The President will witness the awarding of the first tuition subsidy under the Tuition Assistance Program to a D.C. high school graduate for college entrance this fall. President Clinton first proposed this initiative in his FY 2000 budget, and signed it into law on November 12, 1999. This Act improves access to higher education for D.C. students, authorizes federal financial support for the University of the District of Columbia, and contributes to the continuing economic revitalization of the District. Today, the President will recognize the bipartisan support for this initiative and the leadership of Secretary of Education Richard Riley, Mayor Anthony Williams, Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton, Representative Tom Davis, and District of Columbia officials who secured this valuable option for D.C. high school graduates. The President has requested $17 million to continue funding for this program in his FY 2001 budget, and he challenges Congress to pass an education budget that invests in critical priorities such as the District of Columbia College Access Act.
D.C. TUITION ASSISTANCE LEVELS THE PLAYING FIELD FOR D.C. STUDENTS. This initiative offers D.C. residents an opportunity to attend a variety of affordable public colleges and universities, similar to the opportunities that the residents of the 50 states already have. Because a lack of financial resources can be a significant roadblock to entering and completing college, the Tuition Assistance Program will help more hard-working D.C. students who are accepted to the nation's public colleges and universities complete post-secondary degrees. D.C. residents who graduated from high school on or after January 1, 1998 and are enrolled at least half-time in an undergraduate program are eligible for tuition assistance through this program. Furthermore, by encouraging families with college-bound children to remain in or move to the District, the initiative contributes to the continuing revitalization of the District of Columbia. Highlights of this Act include:
TUITION ASSISTANCE OFFERS SUBSTANTIAL ECONOMIC BENEFITS. An investment in college earns a 12 percent return, nearly twice the historical average of the stock market, and college graduates can expect to earn $600,000 more over a lifetime than high school graduates. Young men with a bachelor's degree earned 150 percent the salary of their peers with no more than a high school diploma in 1998 and young women with a college degree earned twice as much as female high school graduates.
OPENING THE DOORS OF COLLEGE TO ALL AMERICANS: THE CLINTON-GORE RECORD ON STUDENT AID. President Clinton and Vice President Gore's commitment to opening the doors of college to all Americans has more than doubled financial aid (including tax relief for college) from $25 billion in FY 1993 to nearly $60 billion in FY 2000. This is the largest investment in higher education since the G.I. Bill. The Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning tax credits will provide over $7 billion in higher education tax relief to 10 million families this year. Student loan reforms, including Direct Student Loans, have saved students $9 billion and taxpayers $6 billion. Larger Pell grants, new opportunities to earn money for college through work-study and national service, and new and expanded efforts to help at-risk youth prepare for college through TRIO and GEAR UP are also broadening access to college.
INVESTING MORE IN OUR SCHOOLS AND DEMANDING MORE FROM THEM. The Clinton-Gore agenda of high standards, accountability and investing in what works is producing results. The President's FY 2001 budget includes a $4.5 billion increase in education funding, which expands accountability and invests in successful strategies such as reducing class size, expanding after-school and summer school programs, modernizing schools, and improving teacher quality to ensure that all students receive the high quality education they need. Unfortunately, the Senate appropriations committee has passed a bill that provides zero funding for these priorities. And last week, the House passed an appropriations bill that underfunds this agenda by more than $2.9 billion, which the President has threatened to veto because it fails to: strengthen accountability and turn around failing schools; reduce class size; fund emergency repairs and renovation of aging schools; sufficiently expand after-school opportunities; adequately fund the Hispanic Education Action Plan (HEAP); help prepare low-income students for college through GEAR UP; fund programs to improve teacher quality; help bridge the digital divide; and adequately fund child care and investments in Head Start.
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