Connecticut College News
Courtney at Conn - by Sarah Kosofsky ´1202/2/2009
Congressman Joe Courtney
This past Friday, I had the chance to sit down and talk in person with Congressman Joe Courtney, D-2nd District. He recently helped approve a new economic stimulus plan that will benefit higher education in Connecticut and in the rest of the United States. According to Courtney, $6 billion will be invested in modernizing education facilities and another $1 billion will be put towards integrating more technology in the classroom. "The higher education industry, if you want to call it that, is feeling the financial pinch as much as other sectors in the economy," said Courtney. "Their endowments have taken hits, and their ability to invest in capital expenditures has really become damaged. This $6 billion is an attempt to fill that hole." But Connecticut College is a private institution, not a public one like University of Connecticut, so some may wonder if the school would receive any help from the stimulus package, especially the $6 billion to be invested in the modernization of classrooms and other college buildings. However, Congressman Courtney said, "there are no restrictions or prohibitions as far as I can decipher that limits it to public sector only." The national work-study program stands to receive $499 million making it possible for students to get more out of the program and to make the program accessible to students who were previously not eligible. The amount of money that students can borrow through the government-subsidized Stafford Loans program would increase by $2,000."The federal government-subsidized loan programs are definitely a much safer way to borrow money than looking into the private market. The interest rates for the Stafford Student Loan program are capped and decreasing over the next few years. Also, consumer protection is built into these loans," said Congressman Courtney. The Pell Grant program maximum would be increased by $500, and the bill calls for a new tuition tax credit of up to $2,500 aimed at making college more affordable. Courtney spoke about how the stimulus package reflected the new Obama presidency: "When the President was campaigning, he talked about college affordability, and access to higher education not only as an issue of middle-class fairness, but also of maintaining America´s competitiveness. I think this package shows that the President is very serious about delivering about his campaign promises." Congressman Courtney summarized why he thought the education part of the stimulus plan was so important: "If we allow, during this economic crisis, the country to collapse its education infrastructure, not only at the lower levels, but also at the higher levels, we´re doing damage to the economy in the long term."