Jason Kander this afternoon joined with Kansas City-area students and administrators from University of Missouri -- Kansas City, William Jewel College and Metropolitan Community College to discuss the impact of the student debt crisis and how the federal government can improve college affordability and accessibility.
According to the Institute for College Access & Success, the average debt for a Missouri graduate of a public four-year institution or private non-profit four-year institution is $25,844, ranking Missouri the 33rd worst in the nation in terms of how much debt students graduate with and the 31st worst in the nation in terms of how many students graduate with debt.
"Let there be no mistake, the price of college is going up -- faster than inflation and certainly faster that middle class wages -- yet, there are still politicians who have the audacity to blame students, as if student debt was the result of poorly managed finances," Jason Kander said. "I've traveled across the state from Kirksville to Kansas City meeting with students to hear their stories. Student debt can haunt families for generations as they seek to overcome a system that's stacked in the dealer's favor."
"It was great to get the chance to talk with Secretary Kander. He really took the time to listen to me and my classmates. It's not everyday you get the opportunity to talk to a Senate candidate directly and I appreciate his willingness to get to know us and learn more about the impact college debt is having on our futures," said Rian Ray, a student at William Jewell College.
A firm believer that higher education is a public good, Jason discussed his support for new initiatives at the federal and state level for combating the rising cost of higher education. Some of his policy positions include:
Allowing students to refinance their student loans similar to a loan for a house or a car;
Placing a cap on federal student loan interest rates;
Expanding the Pell Grant program to reduce dependency on college loans for low-income students;
Creating standards for for-profit colleges to ensure graduates are prepared for gainful employment, and that fraudulent recruitment and financial practices do not devalue a student's degree;
Increasing diversity on college campuses, through pre-existing initiatives such as recruiting from underrepresented communities and establishing faculty diversity standards; and
Providing additional support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which have traditionally been left out of college affordability discussions despite serving a high proportion of low-income students.