Education & Our Kids
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.
Our students are acquiring more student loan debt than ever before. Over 44 million Americans 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 2018 college graduate has about $29,200 in student loan debt, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.
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 concerns voiced at meetings hosted by the Future Forum, a group I founded in 2015 and now comprised of 51 young House Democrats, focusing 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.
Obtaining 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 and accessability to education for students of all ages, from preschool through college.
What I am Doing for You
I introduced H.R. 4725, the No Student Loan Interest Act, which would significantly reduce the burden of interest charges on student loan borrowers. This bill would eliminate and forgive all interest charges on new and existing student loans, and lower the student loan interest rate to zero. (I previously introduced this as H.R. 3751 in the 116th Congress.)
I introduced H.R. 4724, 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. Public servants would receive loan forgiveness in proportion to their years of public service. (I previously introduced this as H.R. 3096 in the 116th Congress.)
I introduced H.R. 4723, 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 through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. (I previously introduced this as H.R. 3097 in the 116th Congress.)
I introduced H.R. 4726, the Student Loan Interest Deduction Act, which would expand the student loan interest deduction by increasing the maximum tax deduction for interest paid on any qualified education loan from $2,500 to $5,000 for individuals (and to $10,000 for joint filers). It also permanently eliminates income-based phase-outs at $65,000 for individuals ($130,000 for joint followers) in the current deduction. (I previously introduced this as H.R. 3098 in the 116th Congress.)
I introduced H.R. 4727, the STEM K to Career Act, which seeks to improve the employment of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) teachers and the education of STEM students. It would forgive student loan obligations of borrowers employed as full-time STEM teachers in low-income elementary schools, increase the tax deduction for expenses by schools relating to STEM supplies, create a tax credit for the employment of STEM interns, and a tax credit for employing individuals that participate in STEM apprenticeship programs. (I previously introduced this as H.R. 3099 in the 116th Congress.)
Here's what I had to say about these bills on the House Floor:
I co-introduced H.R. 4907, the Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act, to restore fairness in student lending by treating privately issued student loans the same as other types of consumer debt and so that they are dischargeable in bankruptcy.
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 604, the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2021. This bill invests $130 billion – targeted at high-poverty schools – to help reopen public schools and provide students and educators a safe place to learn and work. In addition to helping students get back to school, the bill will also create over 2 million jobs during a time of widespread unemployment.
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 2730, the College for All Act, to eliminate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities for families making up to $125,000 — nearly 80 percent of families — while also making community college free for every person across the country. This would make the most substantial federal investment in higher education in modern American history.
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 3946, the Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act of 2021, to double the Pell Grant award, index the award to inflation, and make other changes to expand the award for working students and families. The bill also makes the Pell Grant funding fully mandatory to protect it from funding shortfalls, expands the program to include DREAMers, and restores lifetime eligibility for the program to 18 semesters, among other changes that will benefit students.
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 2912, the Truth-In-Tuition Act, a bipartisan bill to increase transparency around college tuition for students and families paying for higher education by requiring universities and colleges to provide a four-year price model for students and parents.
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 394, the COVID-19 Student Loan Relief Extension Act, to not only extend the COVID-19 student loan forbearance relief that was set to expire on January 31, 2021, but also to expand coverage to student loan borrowers who were excluded from support by the previous administration, and provide them with retroactive relief.
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 1919, the Enhanced Access to SNAP Act (or EATS Act), to address the growing crisis of food insecurity among college students by permanently expanding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility to millions of college students experiencing hunger on a daily basis.
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 1959, the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act, a bipartisan bill amending the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to require a state to identify, evaluate, and provide special education and related services to children who have visual or hearing disabilities (or both) and also are, or may be, classified in another disability category. A state must ensure that it has enough qualified personnel to serve children who have such disabilities and that a full continuum of alternative placements is available to meet the needs of disabled children for special education and related services.
I'm an original cosponsor of H.R. 5342, the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment of 2021, to require colleges and universities to have policies in place to prohibit harassment and establishing a competitive grant program to support campus anti-harassment programs, including prevention, counseling, and training.
I cosponsored H.R. 3519, the Stop Child Hunger Act, to ensure that children who qualify for free or reduced lunches receive electronic benefit transfer cards during school breaks or while schools are not operating in-person.
I cosponsored H.R. 3312, the Real Education & Access for Healthy Youth Act, to create a grant program creates to provide evidence-based sex education and access to youth-friendly sexual health services to young people in public schools, communities, and institutions of higher education.
I cosponsored H.R. 2283, the Teaching Asian Pacific American History Act, to promote the teaching and learning of Asian Pacific American history in schools across the United States. The bill would require grant applications from Presidential and Congressional Academies to include Asian Pacific American history as part of their American history and civics programs offered to students and teachers; it also would encourage the inclusion of Asian Pacific American history in national and state tests administered through the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and promote collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Center to develop innovative programming regarding Asian Pacific American history.
In the 116th Congress:
I cosponsored H.R. 4674, the College Affordability Act, which would reauthorize the Higher Education Act of 1965 to lower the cost of college, to hold colleges accountable for students' success, and to give a new generation of students the opportunity to graduate on-time and transition to successful careers.
To improve transparency and flexibility for students and their families, I introduced H.R. 3095, 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 for them.
With bipartisan support, I cosponsored H.R. 2653, the Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2019, which would provide dedicated funding to states for mental health services providers, thus lowering the student-to-staff ratios for school counselors, psychologists and social workers.
I pushed for financial equality for students by cosponsoring H.R. 885, the Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act, to 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 removed this consumer protection.
I also cosponsored H.R. 1707, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, which would let students refinance their student loan debt at the same low rate being offered currently to new borrowers.
To increase kids' access to the skills demanded in a rapidly advancing workforce, I cosponsored H.R. 3808, the Teacher Education for Computer Science (Teach CS) Act, which would increase expertise in computer science by building a robust pipeline from our colleges and universities to the classroom.
More on Education & Our Kids
WASHINGTON, DC – This week, Congressman Eric Swalwell (CA-15) reintroduced a package of five bills to lessen the burden of student loan debt and make a college education more accessible and affordable to any American who wants one.
“Right now, generations of Americans are struggling under the crushing burden of student debt. They are putting off buying a home, having children, and saving for retirement to pay down their student loans,” Swalwell said. “A college education should come with a lifetime of knowledge and memories, not a lifetime of debt.”
WASHINGTON, DC –– Yesterday, several legislative provisions authored by Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA) were included in the H.R. 133, the Omnibus Appropriations and Emergency Coronavirus Relief bill. The bill increases non-defense spending by $12.5 billion above the budget caps, allowing for strong investments in American families and communities, and includes several critical Democratic priorities for COVID-19.
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) introduced a bipartisan bill today to ensure public servants and frontline workers whose jobs may have been disrupted by COVID-19 still qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.