In the first 100 hours of this Congress, when we passed legislation to cut the interest rates on student loans in half, many of us stood in this chamber and said, "This is only the beginning." It was the first step to making college more affordable and giving millions of students the chance to further their educations.

Now we stand here today to take our next step - the largest investment in student loans since the G.I. Bill. House Democrats are keeping their promise to the American people - cutting interest rates on student loans in half, and now also increasing Pell grants, raising the cap on low-interest federal loans, and making paying back loans easier by basing payments on what graduates can afford.

Further, this bill makes it easier for young people to enter public service by extending loan forgiveness to law enforcement officers, first responders, librarians, and nurses, and giving more assistance than ever to undergraduates who commit to teaching in high-need locations or subject areas.

And as we make these vital changes to give more opportunities to students, we do so in a fiscally responsible manner by cutting exorbitant fees to lenders.

By opening the door to college, and maintaining a balanced budget, we are working to ensure the best possible future for our young people.  By increasing the opportunity and incentive to enter public service, we harness the ability and ambition of our best and brightest.  And by helping students achieve advanced degrees, we are ensuring that the United States remains on the forefront of innovation and discovery in a competitive global economy.

There is no greater investment than education.  I encourage my colleagues to join me to take this next step to support students and make this historic investment in higher education.