As the child of a public school teacher, the importance of receiving a quality education was instilled in me from a very young age. My mother, having spent several years teaching in the public school system, always stressed the value of education, and I benefited from that lesson. Today, more so than ever, the federal government must do all it can to ensure that every child has the opportunity to receive a world-class education.
Investing in Early Education
I believe the path to achieving a first-rate education must begin in early childhood. I support investing in and maintaining programs like Head Start that focus on early intervention and development. At the beginning of a child's life, every year counts toward giving that child the advantages they need to succeed in school. Beginning a child's education early can help accelerate their development and play a key factor in their success. For every $1 spent on preschool, the United States receives $7 back in the long term. When we invest earlier in our kids, the return on that investment is worthwhile.
Making Education More Affordable -- Reining in Student Debt
Education is a life-long process that extends beyond the halls of our public high schools, and access to higher education is a vital piece of that process. The 5th district is home to several top-notch colleges and universities. Students from across the globe come to Massachusetts to take advantage of the educational opportunities afforded by our state, yet many of our own citizens are finding the price tag of higher education to be an insurmountable barrier.
A recent Wells Fargo study produced a startling statistic: nearly 1 out of every 3 college graduates surveyed wished they bypassed college and instead went into the working world after high school.
That statistic should be a wake up call for policymakers, as interest rates for subsidized federal student loans previously set at 3.4% have increased to 3.9% with the room to grow over the coming years. With outstanding loans topping $1 trillion for the first time, this is no time for Congress to be raising rates on students.
We have world-class educational institutions right in the 5th district, across the Commonwealth and around the nation. But a college education is becoming financially out of reach except for the wealthiest Americans. That is unacceptable.
Congress should revisit the issue of rates for student loans next year when the Higher Education bill is up for reauthorization. They should concentrate their efforts on establishing a fixed interest rate for all students, so that the market doesn't decide winners and losers based on the year you intend to go to college. By establishing a fixed rate for students, students and their parents can make better financial decisions, while lowering the cost of borrowing and helping to address the increasing rate of delinquencies.
Another aspect of this issue that needs to be addressed involves students understanding their rights and responsibilities when taking out a loan. College is a big step, and excitement about the future, anxiousness about being away from home, and the anticipation about beginning a new chapter can feel overwhelming. Understanding how to make higher education work financially can be daunting, but better education on the basics of student loans should be part of that process.
Our economy is becoming more and more knowledge-based, and we need to give the next generation the tools to succeed in a rapidly evolving workforce. We must do all we can to ensure that a great education is not out of reach for any American, because it is inextricably linked to our country's future prosperity.
Helping our Colleges and Universities to Maintain Their Competitive Edge
Our higher education institutions not only provide a world-class education for their students, they are drivers of groundbreaking research and innovation. From breakthroughs in the fields of medicine to clean energy, we are uniquely positioned because of the quality of research being done here.
Federal funding fuels this research and is critical for our colleges and universities. We need to continue to support and invest in these efforts on the federal level.
In Massachusetts, and the 5th Congressional District, our higher education institutions are known for their academic excellence, which attracts students from around the world to our area, fueling our economy and creating countless jobs.
The financial impact of our first class schools reaches everyone from those employed there to the small businesses providing meals to hotels that house parents and perspective students.
The work being done at our higher education institutions has given this country some of the most important innovations in history. It is a great source of pride for our region and one I intend to advocate for if elected to Congress.