Tuesday, September 15, 2009

AAUW Adds to Voices of Support for Historic College Affordability Legislation

Bill described as single largest investment in higher education

WASHINGTON – AAUW urges the House of Representatives to pass the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3221), which is scheduled for a vote this week. The bill will be discussed today at two media events hosted by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, and other lawmakers.

This critical legislation would move all federal student loans to the Direct Lending Program, which would save the federal government and taxpayers almost $100 billion over the next 10 years. These savings will be used to make college more affordable for millions of students at no new cost to taxpayers. The bill also states that improving postsecondary access for women and underrepresented students in STEM should be a priority.

“AAUW has been a leader in promoting women and girls in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields. Our work in this area dovetails with our efforts to improve women’s economic security and to close the gender wage gap because STEM jobs are usually high paying,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE.

AAUW is pleased that the legislation provides funding to improve community colleges, increases funding for early childhood education, and strengthens the Pell grant program.

While many students struggle with the cost of higher education and loan repayment, the burden is particularly significant for women. AAUW’s report, Behind the Pay Gap, found that college-educated women earn 5 percent less than men one year out of college and 12 percent less than men 10 years out of college, even when they have the same major and occupation as their male counterparts and when controlling for factors known to affect earnings such as education and training, parenthood, and hours worked.[i] This immediate and pernicious wage disparity makes it that much harder for women to repay their student loans.

“Only about 29 percent of Americans have college degrees

—and that’s not nearly enough to make us competitive in the global economy or to prepare people for 21st-century, technologically oriented jobs. This isn’t just a feel-good, fairness issue—it’s about keeping jobs at home and ensuring innovation and growth in the United States economy,” said Lisa Maatz, AAUW director of public policy and government relations.


AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research. Since 1881, AAUW has been one of the nation's leading voices promoting education and equity for women and girls. AAUW has a nationwide network of nearly 100,000 members, 1,000 branches, and 500 college/university institutional partners. Since AAUW’s founding more than 128 years ago, members have examined and taken positions on the fundamental issues of the day — educational, social, economic, and political. AAUW's commitment to educational equity is reflected in its public policy advocacy, community programs, leadership development, conventions and conferences, national partnerships, and international connections.

Visit the AAUW website at www.aauw.org

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