President Merten Tells House Committee Student Grants Are ‘Critical’ to Mason

Posted: May 27, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Graham

George Mason President Alan Merten testified yesterday before the House Committee on Government Reform about the university’s participation in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) and William D. Ford Federal Director Loan Program (FDLP).

House Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) invited Merten to testify in the oversight hearing examining the management and performance of the federal programs. Merten’s comments addressed which services are most helpful to students; the quality of service provided by the U.S. Department of Education; the role of competition in the creation of increased services and streamlined delivery of the FFELP and FDLP programs; and, most importantly, the need for federal grants.

“The federal student and parent loan programs are critical to our ability to provide affordable access to higher education. Approximately one-third of our students benefit from the federal student and parent loan programs,” Merten stated in his testimony to the committee.

Mason’s cohort default rate (percentage of students that do not repay) is very low—2 percent for FY 2002, which is less than half of the national average of 5.2 percent. In addition, the Mason’s Office of Student Financial Aid has received a Model of Quality award from the Quality Assurance Program of the U.S. Department of Education.

“While we are excited about providing options to our students and parents, the sources of money have become increasingly limited when it comes to assisting students in financing their postsecondary education. We rely heavily on the state and federal government financial aid funds. The reductions in the Federal Campus Based Programs and the elimination of the Federal Perkins Loan Program are of great concern to us as they relate to the options that students will have in the future,” Merten testified.

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