WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court decision for Biden v. Nebraska, et al.
“A higher education is not the only way to succeed in this country, but the long-term financial benefits are indisputable. President Joe Biden recognized this during the pandemic when our economy shutdown practically overnight and low- and middle-income students, who were already overburdened with student loan debt, needed relief. While the pandemic’s emergency declaration may have expired, the economic impact remains. During the worst of the pandemic, the federal government stepped in to provide urgent financial relief for families, state governments and local communities, small businesses and so many others. It is bewildering why students are forced to be excluded from this list with only a deferment of payments. I understand that many Americans struggled to pay off their own student debt over many years, but that does not mean we should never provide necessary relief to others as circumstances warrant. Helping our students succeed should not be a partisan effort.
“The Supreme Court decision today is a setback for millions of students, but this should not be the last word. To start, I find it appalling that governments – federal and state – are making a profit off student loans and that some states ‘rely’ on that income. This needs to change. Most immediately, I urge President Biden to use his existing authorities to provide the greatest relief possible to low- and middle-income students, particularly those pursuing public service careers. As our economy improves, we cannot leave our students behind.
“Today, I also am announcing that I will be reintroducing the Strengthening American Communities Act, which will expand the ways in which participating in public service can help finance undergraduate educations. Rather than taking out student loans to pay for their degrees, the legislation establishes a National Public Service Education Grant program to provide students with the majority of the cost of their degrees. Colleges would contribute a portion of the remaining costs for students, and the students, by accepting the grant, will commit themselves to at least three years of public service.
“The pandemic showed us the wide range of essential public service professionals who hold our nation together during good times and bad. Congress has an opportunity to make it easier for more Americans to serve their communities. We especially need to continue to remove financial barriers that have discouraged people of color, first-generation students and low-income students from pursuing critical public service careers.”
The text of the Strengthening American Communities Act can be found here.