Tester votes to make college more affordable

Senator helps boost student financial aid for thousands of Montanans

(HAVRE, Mont.) – With student loan interest rates set to rise on thousands of Montana students, Senator Jon Tester is using his seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee to make college more affordable.

Tester, a member of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Department of Education, this week voted to raise the maximum Pell Grant 2.5 percent to $5,785. Pell Grants are awarded to students based on financial need.

Tester, chairman of the Congressional caucus dedicated to making higher education more affordable, said that Pell Grants are one way to help more Montanans go to school and prepare to enter the workforce.

“Making education more affordable is the smartest investment we can make for our nation’s future,” said Tester, a former teacher. “I will continue to support initiatives like Pell Grants that remove financial barriers to higher education so more Montanans can get good jobs and provide for themselves and their families.”

According to the Montana University System, nearly 40 percent of Montana students received Pell Grants during the 2011-12 school year.

Tester this week also voted to keep student loan rates from doubling on federally subsidized Stafford Loans. The bill did not pass despite receiving a majority of votes.

Tester’s Appropriations bill with his Pell Grants increase will next go before the full Senate.