#InTheRed Campaign Highlights Student Debt Crisis and the Urgency for Congress to Act Immediately
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin and Senate Democrats today formally launched a new legislative package and campaign, dubbed #InTheRed, aimed at pushing Congress to address college affordability in 2016 and putting America on a path toward debt-free college.
At a press conference in the U.S. Capitol building with Senate Democrats and dozens of students and advocates, Senator Baldwin introduced the new legislative package, the RED (Reducing Educational Debt) Act, which includes a college affordability reform authored by Senator Baldwin, the America’s College Promise Act. The legislative package also includes reforms to address the significant loss in value of Pell Grants by adjusting them for inflation, and allowing borrowers to refinance their existing student loans at lower rates.
“The idea that the next generation will be able to go further and do better than the last one is the heart of the American dream, and the solutions we are offering today deserve a vote in Congress,” said Senator Baldwin, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “It is my hope our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will join us in confronting the student debt crisis and supporting these commonsense reforms that not only make higher education affordable, but can help give more Americans a fair shot at pursuing their dreams.”
Senate Democrats also announced today, as part of the #InTheRed college affordability campaign throughout 2016, Senators will be visiting college campuses and meeting with Americans saddled with student loan debt as a way of highlighting the urgency for Congress to act to pass this legislative package and the overall need to put America on a path toward debt-free college. Senators will share the stories they hear on Capitol Hill over the coming months and urge their Republican colleagues to support this legislative package.
Specifically, the legislative package -- the RED (Reducing Educational Debt) Act -- contains three pieces of Senate legislation that seek to:
Make Two Years of Community College Tuition-Free
Under the RED Act, a full-time community college student could save an average of $3,800 in tuition per year, and, if all states participated under this program, an estimated 9 million students throughout the country could benefit. The legislation, modeled after Senator Baldwin’s America’s College Promise Act, would also hold colleges accountable by making a condition of the grant that training programs are tied to the skills needed in today’s economy and that credits are transferable to four-year institutions. Specifically, this legislation:
Allow Borrowers to Refinance Student Loans at Lower Rate
Under the RED Act, student loan borrowers would be given a chance to refinance their debt at the same low rates offered to new borrowers in the student loan program in the 2013-2014 school year. Specifically, this legislation:
Ensure Pell Grants Keep Pace with Rising Costs
The RED Act ensures that Pell Grants keep up with rising costs by indexing the Pell Grant program to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) beyond 2017 with mandatory funding to protect and sustain its value into the future. Without permanent CPI indexing, the purchasing power of the Pell Grant will erode, making it harder for students and families to afford college. Specifically, this legislation:
Joining Senator Baldwin at today’s press conference were Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)