Education and Student Loans
I believe that providing a quality education should be one of our nation’s highest priorities. All across the East Bay, schools are trying to do more with less – investing in the latest technology, rewarding outstanding teachers, and expanding access to before and after-school programs. In these tough financial times, our government must strengthen public schools by providing the funds and flexibility states need to implement vital education reform.
More than 42 million past and present U.S. students now carry more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt – a crushing burden that slows our economy and puts the American Dream out of reach for many. The average Class of 2016 graduate has about $37,000 in student loan debt, nearly four times the figure from just two decades ago.
Much of this burden falls upon the millennial generation: the largest, most educated, most diverse generation in American history, and a generation that feels increasingly disenfranchised, disenchanted and distanced from the political and policy process. Many fully employed millennials can’t afford to save a cent to marry, have kids, buy a home or eventually retire – all their income must go to serving their debt while barely keeping themselves afloat. This is among the top concern voiced at meetings hosted by the Future Forum, the group of 18 young House Democrats I founded in 2015 to focus on bridging the gap between Congress and young Americans by discussing issues of importance to millennials.
Yet millennials don’t carry this debt alone - their parents often share in the burden. Some parents mortgage their homes to help pay; some take additional jobs or delay their retirement; some bear the costs of their adult, working children living with them.
Many children of millennials suffer, too; parents who strive to feed, house and clothe a family while paying off their own student debt often can’t pay or save for their children’s educations.
Getting the education needed to compete in today’s economy must not require entire families to incur lifetimes of debt. I believe that a quality education prepares students for future careers in our global economy, and allows students to grow and thrive in their communities. I am working hard in Congress to improve the quality of education for students of all ages, from preschool through college.
What I am Doing for You
I’m an original co-sponsor of H.R. 885, the Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act. This bill would restore fairness in student lending by treating privately issued student loans the same as other types of private debt are treated in bankruptcy. Until 2005, this type of student loan debt was dischargeable in bankruptcy, but a change to the bankruptcy code that year removed that consumer protection.
In the 115th Congress:
I introduced H.R. 2968, the Know your Repayment Options Act, which would inform all federal student loan borrowers of all repayment options on a yearly basis, particularized for each individual, so they can pick the plan that works best. (I introduced this as H.R. 5898 in the 114th Congress.)
I introduced H.R. 2992, the Fairness in Forgiveness Act, which would let current and former long-time workers at all 16 privately operated Department of Energy National Laboratories seek forgiveness of their federal student loans under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. (I introduced this as H.R. 5201 in the 114th Congress.)
I introduced H.R. 3026, the Strengthening Forgiveness for Public Servants Act, which would enhance student loan forgiveness for teachers, police officers, public health workers & others who dedicate their careers to public service. (I introduced this as H.R. 5899 in the 114th Congress.)
I introduced H.R. 3048, the Student Loan Interest Deduction Act, which would increase the student loan interest deduction for individuals from $2,500 to $5,000. (I cosponsored this as H.R. 509 in the 114th Congress and as H.R. 1527 in the 113th Congress.)
I cosponsored H.R. 2477, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, which would give students the opportunity to refinance their student loan debt at the same low rate being offered currently to new borrowers. (I cosponsored this as H.R.1434 in the 114th Congress.)
In the 114th Congress:
I introduced H.R. 2082, the STEM K to Career Act, which would provide federal student loan relief to STEM teachers, offer tax credits to certain employers that provide paid internships or apprenticeships in the STEM fields, and amend the Federal Work Study program to offer more STEM opportunities.
I cosponsored H.R. 2962, the America’s College Promise Act, which would make two years of community college free for responsible students.
I cosponsored H.R. 565, the Stepping Up to STEM Education Act, which would help spur innovation and discovery by providing grants to prepare our students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
I cosponsored H.R. 4462, the Truth-In-Tuition Act, which would require schools to present the incoming class of students with a multi-year tuition schedule or give a student a non-binding estimate of what their education will cost. (This was H.R. 2020 in the 113th Congress.)
Rep. Swalwell holds Future Forum listening session at the University of Colorado in Denver, April 2016.
In the 113th Congress:
I cosponsored H.R. 3461, the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, which would increase opportunities for low-income preschoolers through federal-state partnerships.
To help combat student loan debt, I led a letter sent to the Department of Education requesting that the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System survey include university president salary and compensation as well as that of the top three personnel as required fields because a study by the Institute for Policy Studies suggests executive pay for university presidents and student loan debt are closely related.
Rep. Swalwell at Donlon Elementary in Pleasanton, April 2016.
More on Education and Student Loans
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressmen Steve Cohen (TN-09), Danny Davis (IL-07) and Eric Swalwell (CA-15) today introduced the Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act. This legislation would restore fairness in student lending by treating privately issued student loans the same as other types of private debt are treated in bankruptcy. Until 2005, this type of student loan debt was dischargeable in bankruptcy, but a change to the bankruptcy code that year removed that consumer protection.
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) today introduced H.R. 5962, the STEM K to Career Act to create a ladder to success for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) students and professionals across the country.
The legislation would offer federal student loan relief to STEM teachers, provide tax credits to certain employers that provide internships or apprenticeships in the STEM field, and amend the federal Work Study program to offer more STEM opportunities.
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15), the founder and chairman of Future Forum, and other members of that group on Wednesday unveiled a policy paper entitled “Future For Us: Higher Ed” – a plan for making higher education more accessible and affordable.