We must protect the ‘path of knowledge’

U.S. Rep. LLoyd Doggett

Fifty years ago this November, President Lyndon B. Johnson stood in Texas State University’s Strahan Gym, now where Strahan Coliseum stands, for the formal signing of the Higher Education Act. This landmark law unlocked the door to college for decades of students otherwise unable to attend. The goal, LBJ said, was to ensure that the “path of knowledge is open to all that have the determination to walk it.” 

While President Johnson’s legislation improved college affordability, half a century later too many of our students again encounter financial obstacles to higher education — too many others leave with a mountain of debt. 

Bobcats take pride in working hard and serving their community. I see this first-hand with the Texas State interns and staff in my office and at Bobcat Build, where I have seen so many campus organizations dedicating their time to improving our community. Yet, despite this strong work ethic and selflessness, paying for college education seems increasingly unattainable 

There is some good news. One of my recent efforts was adopted by the President to make the complicated student aid process simpler. Changes effective next year will permit students to submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application as soon as Oct. 1, months earlier than previously possible. It will also allow families to use tax return data from two years ago.  An amendment I authored gave the Administration this authority. 

The result of these changes are simple: students can apply for aid sooner and more easily. It shouldn’t take a college degree to complete a form for financial assistance to get into college. And going to college should be based on how hard students are willing to work, not how big of a check they can write. We must ensure that complex applications and financial barriers restrict no student from reaching their full God-given potential. 

When I spoke to new incoming Texas State students at their convocation ceremony in August, it was in the same building President Johnson signed the Higher Education Act. I discussed my efforts to build on this landmark law, with my “Simplifying Financial Aid for Students Act,”  My bill reconfigures FAFSA aid calculations, increasing the number students who would qualify for the maximum Pell Grant award. I will continue reaching across the aisle, working to ensure progress on this and other measures to reduce higher education’s cost. Let’s work together to guarantee every student is able to “walk the path of knowledge.”

San Marcos Record

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