After a Knoxville man came forward to claim his $259.8 million Poweball jackpot, Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today emphasized the benefits for Tennessee's students provided by the lottery. Congressman Cohen is a strong advocate for making college more affordable and is the father of the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship program. The Congressman fought for many years as a Tennessee State Senator to overcome stiff opposition and create the Lottery Scholarship program, which has provided more than $3 billion in scholarships and other support to the state's students since 2004.
"This jackpot is will certainly change the winner's life, but it also good news for students throughout our state," said Congressman Cohen. "Every dollar spent on lottery tickets in Tennessee directly helps students and their families attend high-quality colleges, and without the lottery the five Knoxville charities would not receive their donations from Kroger. I am proud of my decades of work as a State Senator to create the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship program, which has now provided more than $3 billion to help Tennessee's young adults attend college since 2004. As college costs skyrocket and college degrees become more important, it is critical that we do everything we can to keep college affordable for hard-working students and families."
A Kroger grocery store in Knoxville was also awarded with $25,000 for selling the winning Powerball ticket. The Kroger store donated their award to five Knoxville-area charities Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee; Love's Kitchen; Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; East Tennessee Children's Hospital; and Teacher Supply Depot.
Making higher education more affordable for hard-working students and families is something that Congressman Cohen cares deeply about and has a decades-long record working to accomplish. In addition to leading the fight to the create the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship program, the Congressman is also working closely with Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren and several Congressmen to help provide struggling students and borrowers with more fairness in their student loans, both through administrative changes and legislation.
Congressman Cohen met last month with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA, photo available here) to discuss their efforts to make college more affordable and the path forward for Warren's Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, which he is cosponsoring. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that, if passed, 25 million borrowers would take advantage of the student refinancing legislation and refinance their existing student loans to lower interest rates similar to those that are currently available to new student loan borrowers. Under the bill, a typical participating borrower would save roughly $2,000 over the life of their loan.
The Congressman also announced last month that President Obama's recent move to give certain borrowers the ability to cap their student loan payments at 10% of their monthly income will help an estimated 103,736 citizens of Tennessee burdened with student loan debt, according to a report released by the Domestic Policy Council and the Council of Economic Advisers. The President's executive action offers a new repayment option to millions of borrowers who were previously ineligible, including many borrowers with older loans. For example, under the President's action a teacher earning about $39,000, with student debt of $26,500 would be able to reduce their payments by more than $1,500 a year, compared to the standard repayment plan.
"As the father of the Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship, I've always worked hard to ensure that higher education remains affordable for students and families," said Congressman Cohen. "I agree with President Obama that we need to do more to bank on our students, and I support this move to help reduce costs for more than 100,000 Tennesseans with student loan debt. I also look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to provide more relief to nearly half a million hard-working, responsible Tennesseans by passing Senator Warren's student loan refinancing bill."
The report also estimated that 483,000 student loan borrowers in Tennessee would benefit from the passage of Senator Warren's loan refinancing bill. Congressman Cohen is also the sponsor of H.R. 532, the Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act of 2013, which would return the bankruptcy law to what it was before 2005 regarding private student loan debt and allow Americans struggling with overwhelming private student loan debt through no fault of their own to obtain relief from these crushing financial obligations.
This Powerball jackpot prize is the largest won in Tennessee since the Tennessee Education Lottery's inception in 2004.