Making Education More Affordable and Preserving the American Dream
Like millions of other Americans, my wife Lisa and I depended on student loans to get our degrees. I understand the pressure to repay those loans, and how those loans can act as an albatross weighing people down for decades after graduation. That risk discourages many young people from pursuing advanced degrees, limits the jobs recent graduates can consider, and reduces the capital available for graduates to spend in our economy. In Congress, I will fight for common-sense solutions to make college education affordable.
Expanding Loan Forgiveness Opportunities and Encouraging Public Service
I support providing recent graduates with increased opportunities to forgive their student debt by undertaking public service employment. In Congress, I will support legislation, such as H.R. 5899, that allows graduates who work in public service to forgive a certain portion of their debt each year, and have their debt totally forgiven after ten years in public service.
Allowing Students to Refinance Student Loans
We may refinance car loans, home mortgages, and credit card debt, but we’re precluded from refinancing our federal student loan debt. That arbitrary limitation costs millions of Americans billions of dollars every year. While the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act passed by Congress in 2013 was a positive step for student borrowers (setting the loan rate at 3.86 percent for the 2013-2014 school year), unfortunately, students with loans pre-dating the legislation still pay interest rates of nearly 7 percent or higher. In Congress, I will support The Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act sponsored by Senator Warren and Rep. Courtney, which will allow students to refinance existing loans to the same rate of 3.86 percent.
American Opportunity Tax Credit Expansion
Since 1975, tuition at both public and private universities has more than tripled. It’s no wonder then that more than 40 million Americans are saddled with student loan debt. I therefore support expanding and making permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit Permanence and Consolidation Act of 2015, which aims to lessen that loan burden by allowing an income tax credit of up to $3,000 for qualified tuition and related expenses and increasing the income threshold for reductions in the credit amount based upon modified adjusted gross income.
Allowing Students to Discharge Student Debt in Bankruptcy
Currently, Americans may not discharge student loan debt through bankruptcy proceedings. This anomaly ends up putting the onus on 17 and 18-year old students to determine whether a particular school program will appropriately prepare the student to repay the loans, rather than incentivizing banks and universities to provide adequate services. In Congress, I will co-sponsor H.R. 1674, the Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act of 2015, which serves to reclassify private student loan debt under the tax code to make it easier for borrowers to get relief through bankruptcy.
Protecting Students from Deceitful College Practices
Unfortunately, information about the quality of for-profit colleges is not always accessible to prospective students. I therefore support directing the Department of Education to institute a complaint tracking system to report student grievances, toughen sanctions for violations to improve consumer protections for students, and strengthen whistleblower protections for faculty and staff. Furthermore, in order to tackle this serious problem for our nation’s students, I will co-sponsor the Protection and Regulations for Our Student (PRO Students) Act (H.R. 2192) in order to ensure that for-profit institutions receive at least 15 percent of their revenue from non-federal student aid.