Ensuring Access to an Affordable, Quality College Education or Skills Training
All Americans should have access to an affordable, quality college education or skills training, and their career options should be shaped by ability and interest, not student loan debt. In order to make the dream of higher education achievable for all, Senator Harkin has advanced the following initiatives to make college more affordable.
- Increased funding for Pell Grants, which provide need-based grants to low-income college students to pay for their college education. Increases were made possible by providing funding in the Recovery Act and by ending wasteful government subsidies to private banks and redirecting that money to students, at no additional cost to the taxpayer. Most Pell Grants go to students with annual family incomes below $50,000.
- Increased the amount of Stafford loans that undergraduates can borrow by $2,000 a year.
- Helped pass the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which invested more than $20 billion to increase student aid and cut student loan interest rates in half over four years.
- Helped advance a provision that caps monthly federal loan payments at an affordable level based on income and family size, and forgives any debt and interest that remains after 25 years.
- Led a series of investigative hearings as Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee into the for-profit higher education sector to make sure that students and taxpayers are being well served. There are growing questions about whether all students - and taxpayers by extension - are receiving value for the dollars they spend at these schools.
- Provided ongoing support for Workforce Investment Act programs. These efforts provide job training and education services to America's workforce to help individuals find work or upgrade their skills to increase their earning potential and put them on a better career path.
- Secured funding for green jobs, to provide workers with the skills necessary to succeed in high-growth industries such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, green construction, sustainable agriculture, biofuels and environmental protection.
- Secured funding to build a new, 300-bed Job Corps Center in Ottumwa, Iowa, that will provide at-risk youth with the intensive education and training services they need to secure and hold employment.