SHAHEEN INTRODUCES LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE TO ENCOURAGE STEM EDUCATION, HELP STUDENTS MANAGE DEBTFebruary 10, 2015
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today reintroduced three pieces of legislation aimed at promoting education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects and helping borrowers better manage their student loan debt.
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING and MATH: The Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program Act establishes a grant program within the Department of Education to support STEM education efforts, particularly those that are considered to be non-traditional such as robotics competitions. The grant program also aims to broaden access to STEM education for women and girls. Shaheen also reintroduced the Supporting Afterschool STEM Act, which will provide resources to support afterschool STEM programing and strengthen state, local and community partnerships that research has demonstrated are critical in building STEM-relevant skills and interest among students.
“Encouraging STEM education will help young people in New Hampshire and across the country gain the skills necessary to compete for the high-tech jobs that are an increasing part of our economic future,” Shaheen said. “The Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program Act and the Supporting Afterschool STEM Act would expand opportunities for young people to study STEM subjects and represents an important investment we must make on behalf of our students, our economy, and our future.”
Shaheen has made promoting STEM education one of her top priorities in the Senate and is a recognized leader by STEM Connector in their 100 Women in STEM publication. Shaheen has met with students across New Hampshire to promote STEM programs and also helped launch and co-chairs the Senate STEM Caucus. She has also been a longtime supporter of programs like FIRST Robotics since her days as New Hampshire’s governor.
SIMPLIFYING ACCESS TO STUDENT LOAN INFORMATION ACT: The Simplifying Access to Student Loan Information Act calls for the development of a central online portal that will allow students to review all their public and private student loans, as well as repayment options for their federal student loans, in one place. The portal would help students better manage, understand and repay their debt by expanding the National Student Loan Data System to include comprehensive student loan information for both private and federal student loans. This would create a virtual one-stop shop where students and borrowers can better manage their debt and gain easier, more comprehensive access to debt and repayment options.
“Expanding access to higher education in New Hampshire and around the country is one of the best ways we can maintain America’s economic competitiveness and improve economic opportunity,” Shaheen said. “Unfortunately, higher education costs are skyrocketing leaving students with thousands of dollars in debt, and that’s bad for our economy and our young people. We cannot wait to act on common sense proposals to help students better manage their debts after they graduate. The bill we’ve reintroduced today will give students in New Hampshire and across the country tools to help better manage repayment, know their options and get help when they need it.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that nationally students hold nearly $1.2 trillion in student debt, and the Project on Student Debt estimates that 76 percent of New Hampshire students leave school carrying loan debt. In total, the group also estimates average debt for New Hampshire graduates is nearly $33,000. Shaheen’s legislation would help students manage their debt burden and navigate the borrowing and repayment processes with confidence.
Throughout her career Shaheen has worked to make college more affordable and accessible, leading efforts to increase access to higher education for New Hampshire students and voting to maintain low interest rates for Stafford loans. She also supported education reforms in 2010 that increased the maximum Pell Grant to $5,730 to help low-income students go to college and has cosponsored the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, legislation that would allow those with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at lower interest rates.
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