Thursday, August 2, 2007

Senate Passes Key Legislation/Action Needed in House

On July 20, the U.S. Senate passed the Higher Education Access Act of 2007 (H.R. 2669) with an amendment that would allow foster youth adopted after age 10 to maintain their financial aid eligibility as if they remained in foster care, regardless of their adoptive parents’ income. Originally part of the Fostering Adoption to Further Student Achievement Act co-sponsored by Senators Norm Coleman and Mary Landrieu, the legislation would remove a barrier that currently forces some youth to choose between adoption and higher education. Currently youth who age out of care qualify for virtually all loans and grants, while those who are adopted must factor in their parents’ income, even though these parents have not had the opportunity to save for college.

NACAC has met many former foster youth who had to make the terrible choice between having a permanent family and pursuing a college education. As a teenager, Sheila lived in foster care with her aunt. She knew that if she remained in foster care, she would receive financial assistance that would enable her to go to college. “I’m smart and very good with money,” Sheila explains. “If my aunt adopted me, I would lose my benefits. I mean adoption is great and everything, but you sacrifice a lot. It is crazy the way the system works.”

The U.S. House of Representatives’ version of the bill does not include this provision, and if your representative is on the Committee on Education and Labor (see list below), we urge you to ask him or her to support inclusion of the Senate’s FAFSA provision during reconciliation of the House and Senate versions of this legislation. (The list of those members who will actually be involved in reconciliation has not yet been finalized, but we would like you to act now since action may happen before Congress recesses next week.)

Committee on Education and Labor

George Miller, Chairman (CA-07), Dale E. Kildee (MI-05), Donald M. Payne (NJ-10), Robert E. Andrews (NJ-01), Robert C. Scott (VA-03), Lynn C. Woolsey (CA-06), Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15), Carolyn McCarthy (NY-04), John F. Tierney (MA-06), Dennis J. Kucinich (OH-10), David Wu (OR-01),
Rush D. Holt (NJ-12), Susan A. Davis (CA-53), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-07), Timothy H. Bishop (NY-01), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-39), John Sarbanes (MD-03), Joe Sestak (PA-07)
Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Mazie Hirono (HI-02), Jason Altmire (PA-04), John Yarmuth (KY-03), Phil Hare (IL-17), Yvette Clarke (NY-11),
Joe Courtney (CT-02), Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)

Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, Ranking Member (CA-25), Thomas E. Petri (WI-06), Peter Hoekstra (MI-02), Michael N. Castle (DE-At Large), Mark E. Souder (IN-03), Vernon J. Ehlers (MI-03), Judy Biggert (IL-13), Todd Russell Platts (PA-19), Ric Keller (FL-8), Joe Wilson (SC-02), John Kline (MN-02), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Kenny Marchant (TX-24), Tom Price (GA-06) , Luis G. Fortuño (PR), Charles W. Boustany, Jr. (LA-07), Virginia Foxx (NC-05), John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr. (NY-29), Rob Bishop (UT-01), David Davis (TN-01), Timothy Walberg (MI-07), Dean Heller (NV-02)

The best way to reach your representative is to call the main Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121. To find your Representative’s direct address, phone number, or e-mail, visit

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