I applaud the Senate for passing key higher education reforms that are critical to expanding access to college, protecting students from bad actors in the student loan industry, and providing students with clear information they need to understand and manage their debts.

After over three years of negotiations, Republicans and Democrats have reached agreement on a number of key measures to help American students. The Senate approved the “Higher Education Amendments of 2007,

We need to enact both pieces of legislation because America’s students must have all the tools they need to complete higher education and to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to become competitive in a 21st century economy.

This year marks 50 years since Sputnik was launched.  That launch sparked huge turmoil in this country and great worry about the knowledge and skills necessary to keep our economy growing and competitive.  Sputnik had a dramatic effect on our education system.  We are again being challenged.  For millions of Americans access to an affordable college education is the key to their success in the 21st century global economy.

Key provisions of S. 1642, which the HELP Committee approved by a 20-0 vote, include:

* Providing consumer friendly, easy to access and understand, detailed information about college tuition and fees;

* Calling for the Department of Education and IRS to coordinate and automate the FAFSA process;

* Requiring the Department of Education to establish protocols for limiting and restoring access to the National Student Loan Data System, a database that contains personal financial information about student borrowers and their families and is used by students, schools, lenders, and guarantee agencies;

* Requiring colleges to establish Codes of Conduct to prohibit their financial aid employees from receiving anything of value in exchange for advantages sought by lenders; and,

* Expanding prohibitions on guaranty agencies and lenders that restrict the offering of any premiums, payments, prizes, and tuition payments.