Maurice proudly voted earlier this year for The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), which completely overhauled the federal student loan program, saving taxpayers $61 billion that is now being used to make college more affordable with the most significant college aid investment in American history. SAFRA has changed the way the student loan system functions by originating all new loans through the government's Direct Loan program, instead of forcing students to pay premiums on loans offered by banks on Wall Street. And because all loans that originate from the federal government must be serviced by American workers, the bill is expected to prompt the non-profits and private lenders who service the loans to grow their American workforces.
Before these reforms, the federal government was giving big banks billions of taxpayer dollars to encourage them to provide loans to students -- even though the federal government was already guaranteeing the loans in case of default. These reforms cut out the big bank middle man in the federal student loan program and allowed us to improve our student aid programs. Without SAFRA, the maximum Pell Grant was set to be cut in half from $5,540 in 2010 to $2,840 in 2011. Instead, constituents in Maurice's congressional district will now see the maximum grant gradually increase to $5,975. Maurice has long been a supporter of efforts to make college more affordable for middle class families. In 2008, he helped pass the Ensuring Continued Access to Federal Student Loans Act to protect the student loan program from turmoil in the U.S. financial markets. He also voted for the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, which created the American Opportunity Tax Credit -- providing up to $2,500 annually per qualifying student for college tuition and expenses.
In order to help keep class sizes small so that children can learn better and get more individualized attention from teachers, Maurice also helped lead the effort in Congress to provide critical support to save teacher jobs and prevent further property tax hikes in New York. In August 2010, he voted for emergency relief that saved 8,200 New York education jobs before the start of the new school year and prevented severe disruptions in our children's education.