Shaheen Presses Secretary DeVos on Afterschool Programs and Student Financial Aid Programs Eliminated by the Trump Budget
**Shaheen read a letter from a Somersworth student about the important role his afterschool program played in his childhood**
**SHAHEEN to DEVOS: If critical federal afterschool program is eliminated, “What do you say… to [students] who are no longer going to have a place to go afterschool… who are not going to have the homework assistance, who are not going to have the help they need to succeed in school?”**
**SHAHEEN: “Why are you reducing opportunities for hardworking Granite State students to earn the money they need for college?”**
(Washington DC) – Today, during a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) pressed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on afterschool programs and student financial aid programs serving low-income students that are cut in the Trump administration’s budget. Secretary DeVos testified in front of the subcommittee to review President Trump’s budget request for the Department of Education. President Trump’s budget eliminates the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, which funds 67 after-school programs in New Hampshire benefitting more than 10,000 Granite State students. The President’s budget also eliminates certain grants to low-income undergraduates and cuts in half funding for work-study financial aid for students.
Shaheen pressed Secretary DeVos on why President Trump’s budget targets successful programs that are helping disadvantaged New Hampshire students. Shaheen read a letter from Raymond M. of Somersworth, who wrote about the importance of the Somersworth Youth Connection (SYC) in his childhood. An after-school program serving students from disadvantaged backgrounds, SYC is funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Center program. “Growing up, life wasn’t easy. Never knowing my real parents, being poor, and moving… it made life tough,” Raymond wrote to Sen. Shaheen. “Without SYC, Somersworth wouldn't be the same. This has had the biggest impact in this community.” Shaheen visited SYC last week.
“What should you say to Raymond and to other students who are no longer going to have a place to go afterschool… who are not going to have the homework assistance, who are not going to have the help they need to succeed in school. What do you say to someone like Raymond?” Shaheen asked. Secretary DeVos responded that New Hampshire could make up the difference without the federal funding to which Sen. Shaheen countered, “A state like New Hampshire doesn’t have the funds to put together programs if you take away the federal dollars that support these at-risk kids.”
Shaheen also raised the Department of Education’s response to the student loan debt crisis and its effort to completely eliminate subsidized loans for undergraduates and halve funding for work-study financial aid. “Why are you reducing opportunities for hardworking Granite State students to earn the money they need for college” by reducing the work-study program and eliminating the opportunity to get subsidized student loans, Shaheen questioned. More than 52,000 New Hampshire students received subsidized loans in the 2014-2015 school year. The following school year, more than 6,000 New Hampshire students participated in the Federal Work-Study Program, under which they earn money for school by working part-time jobs. Shaheen noted that New Hampshire has the highest student loan debt in the country with an average of more than $36,000 per student.
“When you eliminate those efforts that are making a difference for students – whether it be students in college who need help with their student loan debt or at-risk kids afterschool – they don’t have any other options,” Shaheen said to Sec. DeVos. “So what do we tell those students who are going to see their lives changed and disappointed because these [programs] are no longer available?”