Special to Patch
Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) and Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena, CA) cohosted a well-attended financial aid workshop at UC Davis’ Student Community Center Monday. Thompson, who currently represents UC Davis, and Garamendi, a former University of California Regent and California State University Trustee, arranged the event to make sure UC Davis students were fully apprised of financial aid options available to them, including new rules that exist following Congress’ 2010 student aid reform legislation and a 2011 executive order by President Obama. This event is part of the “UC Davis Financial Aid Awareness Week.”
“Students have enough things to stress about. I want UC Davis students to focus on getting good grades and landing a good job after college,” Garamendi said. “Because of this event, today some students can set aside worries about how they’re going to pay for their education.”
“Our task is to reignite the American dream. The first and most important thing we need to do is make sure we have the best education system in the world,” Garamendi continued. “It is a terrible mistake to reduce education funding. I’m doing all I can to make sure that students receive every penny possible to fulfill their American dream.”
Representatives from the Offices of Congressmen Garamendi and Thompson, the UC Davis Financial Aid Center, the UC Davis’ Association of Students at the University of California (ASUC), and the California Student Aid Commission were on hand to offer students one-on-one assistance with their financial aid.
In 2010, Congressman Garamendi voted for the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), which became part of the Affordable Care Act. SAFRA invests $36 billion in Pell Grant scholarships.
It also helps students by making federal loans more affordable through capped monthly payments, a $2.55 billion investment in Historically Black and Minority-Serving Institutions, and a $2 billion investment in career training programs at community colleges. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that by converting to a direct loan system, this law will save taxpayers $61 billion over 10 years.
In October 2011, President Obama proposed his “We Can’t Wait” plan. Part of this series of pro-consumer executive orders is his “Pay As You Earn” plan, an expansion of the goals of SAFRA. The plan would allow six million students to consolidate their federal loans into a single payment per month, cap their loan payments at 10 percent of discretionary income (down from 15 percent), and forgive student loan debt after 20 years. This plan is especially important for students facing a downgraded job market and rising tuition costs.