What college means for today’s students

Fall is in full swing  — which for college students brings a new semester of classes, football and midterms. But for many students, college comes with a hefty price tag.  The rising cost of higher education has grown into a crisis of unprecedented proportions.

According to USA Today, “Total student loan debt was $240 billion in 2003, but has nearly quintupled to 1.2 trillion today.” Student debt now tops $1 trillion, and the class of 2014 is the most “indebted ever,” with an average of $8,250 in student loan debt per year.

This debt is debilitating, and prevents graduates from pursuing goals like raising a family or buying a home. As student debt continues to rise, home ownership across the country has plummeted. Investor Mark Cuban said, “The burden of loans is curtailing college graduates’ purchasing power that could stimulate the economy.”

But by giving students the opportunity to reduce and better manage their debt while they are still in college, higher education can become more affordable in the long run. College graduates can enjoy the benefits of their education rather than spending decades of playing catch up.

In the 113th Congress, House Republicans have made serious efforts to keep student loan rates low, improve opportunities for students seeking higher education, and promote financial responsibility. Multiple bipartisan bills  have passed to tackle student loan debt from all directions.

H.R. 3393, Student and Family Tax Simplification Act — makes paying for college easier by simplifying the tax code and providing greater benefits for those who need it most.

H.R. 1911, Bipartisan Student Certainty Act of 2013 — Puts student loan rates on an equal playing field with other financial loans, making interest rates more affordable.

H.R. 4983, Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act — Gives students and families the information they need to make smart educational decisions.

H.R. 4984, Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act — Provides loan counseling for those with student loans, both before, during, and after their college education.

H.R. 3136, Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2013 — Gives students an efficient and affordable educational opportunities by allowing them to test out of skill-based requirements they have already mastered.

Student debt is crippling, but there are solutions — many of which have already been passed by House Republicans. Unfortunately, they remain #StuckInTheSenate. These bills would empower students to pursue educational opportunities and give them tools to plan for their financial future. House Republicans will continue to work for our students — even if we can’t say the same for Senate Democrats.