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Skelton says federal education aid helps contribute to the economy
Skelton says federal education aid helps contribute to the economy

Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 13, 2010) — According to a 2008 study by the U.S. Department of Education, Americans who have a bachelor’s degree earn, on average, over $20,000 more per year than those who have high school degrees. Those with Associate’s degrees fall between the two, making on average about $10,000 more per year than high school graduates. These numbers are striking and highlight the value of an advanced education in the modern marketplace.

Yet higher education has grown increasingly expensive in recent decades. As families continue to suffer from the worst economic crisis in recent memory, the resources needed to attend school are, in many cases, nowhere to be found. That is why Congress, over the past several years, has stepped in to provide over $80 billion in financial aid to people throughout the country every year. In fact, the Department of Education estimates that over 45 percent of all undergraduate students in the United States received some form of federal financial aid in the 2007-2008 school year. This assistance is an investment in the future of our country.

To simplify the federal aid application process, the federal government has created a consolidated application form known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. This form is used to apply for all manner of federal grants, loans, and work study programs. For example, both a Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, which provides up to $4,000 per year for those planning to teach in an elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families, or a Pell Grant, a direct grant that does not have to be repaid, are awarded based on FAFSA applications.

To apply for federal financial aid for the 2010-2011 school year, students must submit a completed FAFSA by midnight of June 30, 2011. To get started, find out more about the various federal aid opportunities, or to determine if you qualify for financial aid, visit the FAFSA website at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

In today’s market, technical and advanced skills are necessary to compete. Therefore, as the economy rebounds from the current recession, advanced degrees will only become more valuable. The Fourth Congressional District is home to many institutions of higher learning that would be good places to pursue a great education. Make an investment in yourself by taking advantage of these federal programs.

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at www.house.gov/skelton.

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