One of Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators is backing several efforts intended to make it easier for people to access grants or other funding to take college courses.
Current estimates put America’s college loan debt at a staggering $1.2 trillion dollars. U.S Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) says that makes it hard for young professionals to ever get their feet underneath them after they leave college.
The Wisconsin Democrat wants to change how those loans work, including access to refinancing. She argues “you can refinance your home. You can refinance your car loan. You can refinance your small business loan. It’s time that in America that you can refinance your student loans.”
She’s also introduced a pair of bills that would make it easier for working Americans to get college funding through grants. The Working Student Act is designed to keep students who have to work to support themselves during their schooling from being left out of grant opportunities because of their income level. “They’re returning to college to advance their careers. They’re returning to college mid-career. They have family responsibilities, and there’s no question they have to keep on working, even as they try to gain some extra college credits,” she says.
Baldwin says the bill would increase the number of people who qualify for need-based federal financial aid, including Pell Grants.
Another piece of legislation would help people looking to earn technical degrees or certifications obtain grants. Baldwin says that employees constantly say that they have trouble finding workers with the technical skills to fill positions, and this program would open up funding for short term certification programs. The CTE Opportunity Act would allow students to apply for grants for Career and Technical Education programs which do not meet the current program length requirements.
“Our students often have limited financial resources that make the cost of earning a credential a real barrier,” said Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy. “The CTE Opportunity Act will open the doors for more working adults to return to school and improve their skills. That’s positive for them, but it also has the potential to fuel economic growth by delivering talent for employers looking to compete and expand in Wisconsin.”
Baldwin is also working on the America’s College Promise Act, which would make the first two years of community college free for all students and help them on their path to a full 4 year degree.