When Bernie Sanders wrote for The Forum

Sanders speaks in the Chase Center, 1996.

[Editor’s Note: The Sept. 22, 1995 edition of The Forum included letters to the editor from two faces familiar to Vermont Law School students: Career Services director Abby Armstrong, and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders. Just four years into his 16-year stint in the House of Representatives, Sanders took to the pages of The Forum to discuss higher education issues and lambast House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his newly installed Republican majority. Presented in full is then Rep. Sanders’s letter.]

As students begin the fall semester at colleges across Vermont they should realize that many things will effect their lives this year besides the classes they take and the friends they make at school. Recent events in Washington will have a major impact on issues of importance to students and funding for higher education.

Newt Gingrich and his colleagues were elected to office in November 1994. A lot has happened during the eight months they’ve been in office which could have a devastating impact on young people not only in Vermont but across the nation;

Education. Republican proposals put forth this session to cut funding for higher education will be a disaster for students, making an already expensive proposition an impossibility for many Americans. The cuts will mean millions of Americans may no longer be able to get to college at a time when higher education is more and more important to the lives of our young people.

The cost of paying for college education now ranks as one of the most costly investments to the average American—second only to buying a home. In fact, during the 1980’s, the cost of attending college soared by 126 percent. Yet, education cuts proposed by the GOP will make this situation even worse.

The House-passed Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations bill cuts education funding by $3.6 billion. Under this measure, student financial aid nationwide will be cut by 9 percent. The cuts include $481 million from Pell Grants, $156 million from Federal Perkins Loads, and $701 million from total student financial aid. Next year alone, Republican approved cuts will deny 700 Vermont students funding for Pell Grants to help afford a college education.

For Vermont, the seven year budget cuts included in the budget resolution passed by the House and Senate will mean that by the year 2002, over 21,000 Vermont college students will be denied $2,111 in loans. As many as 3,000 graduate students will also be denied $9,424 in loans to help pay for college costs.

Just two of the proposals discussed by the GOP as a way of meeting the Republicans’ $10 billion targeted cut in higher education programs would result in the average student paying $2,000 more over the life of his or her loan. The proposals to eliminate the 6 month grace period for rates would each tack on an extra $1,000 to a student’s overall financial obligation.

The Republican majority in Congress also passed funding bills that completely eliminate the Corporation for National and Community Service by zeroing out over half a billion dollars for the program. The move will effectively deny 227 young people in Vermont a chance to participate in National Service programs in 1996.

Republicans have shown this nation that their so-called “Contract” is clearly with corporate America and clearly against students.

Congressman Bernard Sanders, I-VT

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