Sen. Brown Working to Fix Student Debt Problem

Staff Writer

On Wednesday, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) held a conference call with reporters to talk about his plans to help students better afford higher education. He, along with several other democrats in the house and senate, reintroduced the Debt-Free College Act to help incite states to help students cover the cost of attendance.
“When Connie [Brown’s wife] graduated from Kent State with a father who could afford virtually none of her tuition, room and board; she was the oldest of four,” he said. “He had a union salary but she worked part-time and she graduated with ultimately very little debt, not much over $1,000. The idea that you could do that today without mounds of debt is laughable.”
According to Make Lemonade, a personal finance website, there are 44 million borrowers who owe a total of $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. They also reported that the average student from the Class of 2016 owes $37,172 in student loans.
The Debt-Free College Act offers a one to one incentive to states for higher education to help students pay for full cost of attendance. The match isn’t just expected to cover tuition but also help with room and board, fees, books and supplies and transportation.
To afford the one-to-one match, Brown proposed a roll-back on the tax cuts President Donald Trump gave to the 1 percent.
Brown introduced Melanie Drews, a students from the Cleveland area who is working multiple jobs in order to pay for her education.
Drews explained that she knew that when her father passed away, leaving only her mother to help her, that loans were her only option at attending college. She made adjustments for herself in the beginning. She received an associates degree from Lorain County Community College, which she was able to attend for free because of Pell Grants. As she decided to return to school to earn her bachelor’s, covering the cost wasn’t as simple.
“I’m lucky that I work for an employer that offers tuition reimbursement, however, it only covers 75 percent of tuition and does not cover other expenses … such as university fees, books, transportation and needed equipment and software,” she said.
To cover the additional costs Drews explained that she had to take out loans with interest rates of more than 9 percent. On top of being a full-time student, she also works full-time to with Travel Centers of America as a recruiter and 20 hours a week as a bartender. She is hoping that new legislation will help cut some of her costs so she can finish her education.

Pick up Thursday's Leader to read the full story.