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Congressman: Economic Health Depends on Affordable Education

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.)

U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) spoke to students about the importance of affordable and accessible higher education opportunities.

October 25, 2011 – U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) spoke on the importance of access and affordability of higher education in America during an Oct. 24 discussion sponsored by the student-run Georgetown College Democrats.

Given an increase in global competition, the U.S. is at a crossroads in maintaining its position in the world marketplace, with higher education a key element in solving the dilemma, Bishop said.

“How do we compete?” he asked. “Short answer is, it’s going to be awful hard for us if we are not building the talent base that we need, and a huge piece of the ability to build a talent base is access to higher education. And a huge piece … is affordability.”

Advocating Access

The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities awarded Bishop its "Award for Advocacy of Independent Higher Education" in 2011.

During his speech at Georgetown, the congressman outlined the history of the federal student financial aid program, which he said started during the Sputnik era.

“When we realized Russia was going to beat us in the space race and get into space before us, that’s when what we now call the Perkins loan started,” Bishop explained. “We needed to increase the number of students that went on to higher education and graduated with a real skill set that they could use to support the country.”

'Sputnik Moment'

Bishop says now the race has migrated to financial health.

“This is our Sputnik moment,” Bishop said. “We are getting clobbered by emerging economies.” Higher education needs to be more accessible and affordable in order to create a more viable American economy, the congressman said.

The message appeared to resonate with the audience.

“Congressman Bishop has students’ issues at heart,” said Jonathan Coumes (SFS’13). “Georgetown students need to be able to engage with their government and know what they can do to help further issues like student aid, so it’s important that he came to campus.”

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