WHAT: News conference to cover a funeral for higher education. The purpose of this event is to draw attention to a bill that is currently in Congress. HR 609 would effectively make the largest cut to in forty years to higher education funding. We contend that access to education should be broadened, not limited.
WHEN: Wednesday 10th of August
WHERE: Pioneer Place
VISUALS: Many visuals will be in place in order to simulate a funeral. Media is expected to cover the event.
Affordable higher education is increasingly out of reach for American students and families:
 Each year, more than 400,000 qualified high school students are prevented from attending four-year colleges due to the cost.
 Even with existing federal, state, and school resources, the average low-income student has a need gad of $3,800 yearly.
 The average undergraduate borrower leaves school $19,000 in debt; for graduate and professional students, it is nearly $46,000.
Since 1965, Congress has reauthorized the Higher Education Act to provide opportunity by ensuring that a college education is both affordable and accessible. This year, H.R. 609, Congress' Higher Education reauthorization proposal forces college students to pay billions more for college:
I. Freezes federal financial aid that increases college access and affordability. Federal financial aid makes the dream of a college degree a reality for millions of students each year. Unfortunately, funding levels for student grants have failed to keep pace; today, the maximum Pell Grant is worth only half of what it was 30 years ago and other federal grant programs are under funded, as well.
• H.R. 609 increases the authorized maximum Pell Grant by only $200 through 2013, which isn't even enough to keep pace with inflation for two years. Pell Grants help make college possible for more than 5 million college students.
• H.R. 609 also freezes funding levels for LEAP and the Federal Work Study program through the next 6 years.
II. Makes student loans even more expensive. As the cost of higher education skyrockets, students are increasingly relying on loans to pay tuition bills. Millions of student borrowers struggle with student loan repayment each year; an estimated 39 percent of recent college graduates have unmanageable monthly loan payments. High student loan debt forces many borrowers to put off making important investments, pursuing further education, and from taking important but lower-paying social service jobs like teaching and nursing.
• Forces students to pay a 1 percent guaranty fee on student loans, costing the average student borrower $190 dollars in new up-front loan fees.
• Hikes the student loan consolidation rate by 1 percent and charges borrowers a new 0.5 percent origination fee to consolidate. This change would cost the average undergraduate borrower $2,800 in increased student loan costs.
• Raises interest rates on borrowers who consolidate in school by eliminating the in-school consolidation benefit, costing the average college borrower $630 in increased interest.
• Eliminates on-time repayment incentives in the Direct Loan program, which will increase the cost of borrowing for Direct Loan borrowers by 1.5 percent, costing the average college borrower $280 dollars in new up-front loan fees.
• Raises the cap on student loan interest rates to 8.25 percent. It also repeals current law, which is set to lower the interest rate to 6.8 percent on July 1st, 2006.
While billions in excessive subsidies to student lenders are untouched, the proposal makes cuts to industry subsidies. If we took all the cuts made to lender subsidies in H.R. 609 and applied them to making college cost less we could: raise the Pell grant by $500 over five years; make student loans more cheaper by allowing students to choose between a fixed and a variable rate when consolidating their student loans; and, maintain Congress' promise to lower the student loan interest rate cap to 6.8 percent (from 8.25 percent).