For Immediate Release
February 8, 2006
Contact: Gary Chandler (970) 308-0986
Musgrave's Recent Votes Strip College Funding and Access
On February 1st, Marilyn Musgrave voted in the U.S. House of Representatives to increase college debt loads for Colorado families. The spending bill that Musgrave voted for, which narrowly passed the U.S House, also increased interest rates on PLUS loans for parents. PLUS loan rates will rise from 6.1 percent to 8.5 percent on July 1.
State Representative Angie Paccione, who is running against Musgrave in the 4th Congressional District of Colorado, is also an instructor in the Education Department at Colorado State University. Paccione reacted negatively to Musgrave's vote. "As a state legislator and college instructor, I'm trying to get Colorado kids into college," said Paccione. "Musgrave's trying to drive them away. This is just another one of Musgrave's votes that make it more expensive for families to get their kids through college. Whose side is she on? She's out of touch with Colorado families."
Musgrave's previous college-related votes in 2005 clearly display the trend that Paccione refers to:
*** Musgrave voted in support of the conference agreement to cut $12.7 billion from student loan programs--the largest single cut in history. It imposed higher fees on students, increased the interest rate on parent loans and cut subsidies to lenders. The bill also put billions of dollars in student aid at risk by cutting all of the critical funds ($2.2 billion) used to carry out and administer the student aid programs.
*** Musgrave voted against an amendment to stop a scam in the college student loan program that has allowed certain lenders to pocket billions of dollars in excess profits at the expense of both taxpayers and students. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the so-called "9.5% loan scam" has cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Despite Musgrave's vote, the amendment was adopted, 224-178.
Musgrave's votes to make college more unaffordable for Colorado families lie in stark contrast to the needs in the 4th Congressional District, which has a significant college presence. Colorado State University in Fort Collins enrolls over 23,000 students; the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley enrolls over 12,000. About 41% of undergraduates at both universities receive federal financial aid.
Statewide, over 155,000 students are enrolled in 4-year colleges and universities, and over 290,000 students are getting an education at an institute of higher learning. Coupled with Musgrave's cuts to family college funding, a report released in October 2005 by the College Board said Colorado had the largest percentage increase in college tuition costs of all 50 states. Tuition at four-year public schools in Colorado jumped 17 percent between the 2004-05 school year and 2005-06.
"If you look at the cumulative effect of Musgrave's votes," said Paccione, "you see cuts in funding for college students, higher loan limits for families, and higher loan percentage rates. The bottom line is that fewer Colorado kids get to attend college, and the ones that do have higher debt loads."
Musgrave's votes also starkly contrast with Paccione's record in the Colorado State Legislature. Paccione has successfully supported two bills that increase college access and funding for Colorado families. In the '04 legislative session, Paccione sponsored a bill that gave college credit to high school students who completed a rigorous pre-college program. In the '05 session, Paccione sponsored a bill that added over $1 million to the Colorado College Opportunity Fund.
"I've dedicated much of my adult life to educating students and increasing educational opportunities for Coloradans," said Paccione. "In Congress, I will work to reverse the trend that Musgrave has supported. Musgrave's votes are anti-family, anti-college, and wrong."