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A coalition of higher ed groups asked key Senate and House lawmakers in a letter Monday to make graduate students a priority in a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
The letter went to Senator Lamar Alexander, the GOP chairman of the Senate education committee, and ranking Democratic senator Patty Murray as well as Representative Bobby Scott, chairman of the House education committee, and ranking Republican representative Virginia Foxx. It noted recent decisions by Congress that have made graduate education more expensive, including elimination of in-school interest subsidies for grad students and higher origination fees on Grad PLUS loans. Lawmakers also removed graduate eligibility for the Perkins Loan program before its expiration in 2017.
"This trend is unacceptable and economically self-defeating for our nation as we look to globally compete with the most innovative and skilled work force," the groups wrote.
More than 30 groups signed on to the letter, including the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the American Council on Education, the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, and the Council of Graduate Schools.
Lawmakers have sought other restrictions on graduate benefits in recent years that didn't pass. The PROSPER Act, a 2017 Foxx proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, would have added new annual lending limits for graduate students. And grad students' groups also had to lobby for the removal of a provision in the 2017 Republican tax bill that would have ended the tax exemption for graduate tuition waivers.