BALTIMORE – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today led a roundtable discussion at the Community College of Baltimore County, Dundalk (CCBC Dundalk) on college affordability and President Obama’s recent proposal to make community college tuition-free for responsible students.
“All Americans deserve a fair shot at success — particularly our students, who are trying to create better futures for themselves,” said Senator Cardin. “When you hear from students how hard they and their families are working to get them into and through college – often assuming significant financial risks and amassing major debt – you quickly understand that we need to improve the American system of higher education. President Obama’s ‘America’s College Promise’ proposal, which would make a community college education tuition-free for responsible students. An estimated 9 million students could benefit each year. It holds the potential to positively redefine the norms of American public education.”
“We salute Senator Cardin for creating an opportunity to hear from students first-hand about college affordability. Most community college students do not have the luxury to concentrate solely on their studies. Many must balance full-time employment and family obligations with the rigors of a college schedule,” said CCBC President Sandra Kurtinitis. “Free and universal K-14 education would remove the significant financial burden of tuition costs, enabling more students to achieve college credentials more quickly and give them a better chance to jump-start a meaningful career.”
“In today’s global economy, a college degree opens the door to job opportunities, but it has become more expensive than ever. Students and their families are drowning in more than $1 trillion of debt. We need to be doing everything in our power to make higher education more accessible to more students,” said Senator Cardin. “BCCC Dundalk and other community colleges across Maryland and nationwide have been creating more affordable pathways to a quality higher education. President Obama’s plan to waive two years of tuition for hard-working students at many community colleges builds on their successes and would take a bold step toward reforming how we finance our higher education system.”
“Whenever I gather with college students, I frequently am reminded that very few families in America who can afford the costs of higher education outright. It’s regrettable, but very true. No American should be priced out of an education and the opportunities that come with it,” said Senator Cardin. “Pricing students out of a higher education, or saddling them with insurmountable debt, hurts our economy and society in the long run. There are several provisions Congress could act on right now that would make education more accessible and less burdensome for millions of Americans. We need to bring down the overall costs of education. We’ve got to expand Pell Grants. And we’ve got to fix things in Washington to make it easier for students to finance their futures.”
In the 113th Congress, Senator Cardin cosponsored the Bank on Students Emergency Refinancing Act (S. 2292), which would have allowed those who currently hold student loan debt to refinance it at the lower interest rates currently offered only to new borrowers. The General Accountability Office estimates that the federal government will make $66 billion dollars on student loans issued from 2007-2012. Senator Cardin also cosponsored the Understanding the True Cost of College Act (S.1156) which would help make the cost of college more transparent from the outset by standardizing financial aid, forms and definitions.