(Hartford, CT) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today launched a new online initiative to hear directly from Connecticut students about how college debt is impacting their lives. Students can share their stories or comments at http://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/college-affordability or on the senator’s Facebook page.
The online initiative follows a series of discussions Blumenthal has held at high schools and colleges across Connecticut over the past two years. In that time, he has met with students, parents and educators at high schools in Norwich, East Hartford, Torrington, Middletown, Meriden, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven, Ansonia, Willimantic and Bridgeport. He has also met with students and educators from Western Connecticut State University, Northwestern Connecticut Community College, University of Connecticut, Southern Connecticut State University, Eastern Connecticut State University and Middlesex Community College.
Blumenthal joined Senate Democrats last month in introducing the Reducing Educational Debt Act to make two years of community college free, address the significant loss in the value of Pell Grants by adjusting them for inflation, and allowing borrowers to refinance their existing student loans at lower rates.
Blumenthal has separately introduced two additional measures to reduce student loan debt. The Strengthening Forgiveness for Public Servants Act would expand the existing Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, providing meaningful student debt relief to teachers, police officers, public health workers and others who dedicate their careers to public service. The second bill, The Make Student Grants Truly Tax-Free Act, would eliminate the tax penalty on low-income student borrowers who accept federal grants or scholarships.
“Across Connecticut, I have seen the financially crippling effects of student loan debt—students and parents working second and third jobs, families delaying home purchases and major life decisions, and young students unable to attend schools where they worked so hard to gain admission. Those stories are what is driving this legislative initiative, and what I believe will ultimately form the basis of a broad bipartisan coalition to finally address this national crisis. I invite students, graduates, parents and educators to help lead this initiative by sharing their stories directly with me online,” Blumenthal said.