MADISON, Wis. – University of Wisconsin System leaders today applauded action by the House Appropriations Committee on an economic stimulus package that includes significant funding for higher education. The package expands funding for financial aid, university facilities, and scientific research.
“In these difficult economic times, when families are wondering whether they can afford college, this is a very timely, reassuring message,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly. “Our nation is blessed with an abundance of innovation, imagination and entrepreneurial spirit. Prudent investments in financial aid for hardworking students will help us leverage that human capital by bringing new generations of Americans to college in larger numbers.”
“Just as the original GI Bill transformed the cadre of returning veterans into a globally competitive workforce, this kind of targeted investment will position the United States for continued economic leadership,” added Reilly.
Provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill will increase financial aid to college students. Noteworthy elements include $15.6 billion for Pell Grants, increasing the maximum grant by $500, to $5,350. The bill would raise the limit on unsubsidized Stafford loans by $2,000, providing aid to middle-income families. Total funding for work-study programs would grow by $490 million.
“Every American wants a prosperous future for their children and grandchildren. If passed into law, this legislation will shore up our national research infrastructure that creates well-paying jobs and life-changing discoveries,” said UW Board of Regents President Mark J. Bradley. “Universities in Wisconsin and across the nation have long been the source of scientific breakthroughs that translate into new businesses, improved productivity, new jobs, and a better quality of life. An infusion of new federal funds will help these engines of economic growth rev even higher.”
“Congressman David Obey deserves to be recognized for this strong leadership and vision. He has been a strong advocate for education, and that commitment is reflected in this legislation,” said Bradley.
The federal legislation includes $6 billion for college and university infrastructure projects. It provides $3 billion for the National Science Foundation and $1.5 billion in funding to the National Institutes of Health to support university research facilities. The bill also includes increased research funding for the Department of Energy and other funds for academic research and development.
“These investments will have tremendous short-term and long-term impacts on our state,” said Reilly. “Right away, we’ll be ready to begin work on shovel-ready building projects at our UW campuses. Later, when the construction is done, the work of growing Wisconsin’s knowledge-economy assets will boost personal incomes, broaden the tax base, and brighten our futures.”