Higher education representatives defended federal financial aid programs Wednesday before members of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, the Talk Radio News Service reports. Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO of the Lumina Foundation for Education, told lawmakers that federal financial aid is a necessary “bedrock” for students, specifically those from low-income households, and said it is in the nation’s best interest to sustain it.

“The challenge is that students and families really are at their limit in terms of their capacity in order to be able to deal with these issues… We can’t afford to reduce the capacity of the system to produce graduates,” Merisotis said. “It is very important to our economic future as a country that we increase the number of highly qualified college graduates in this country.”

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