BY LEXI LONAS
Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) on Thursday introduced a bipartisan bill to tackle student loan debt.
The Earn to Learn Act will allow low-income students to pay for college-related expenses through a college-matched savings program
“We must do better to ensure American students have the skills and training necessary to pursue good-paying jobs that keep up with our changing economy,” Romney said. “Our legislation will help students pursue their education by equipping them with the financial resources and knowledge they need to attend college, career and technical schools without the burden of being saddled with debt when they graduate.”
The savings account allows participating states or nonprofits to give an extra $8 to every $1 a student puts into the account and the money can be used once a student selects a school to attend.
The bill is based on a similar program that has existed in Arizona for 10 years and has helped many students in the state graduate debt free.
The program in Arizona only allows those who qualify for the Pell Grant to participate, but has shown a first-year retention rate of almost 90 percent.
“Education was my key to opportunity, and I’m committed to ensuring all Arizona students have the same access to higher education that I did,” Sinema said. “Creating a college-matched savings program helps Arizona students save for school while teaching the importance of money management.”
In the senators’ bill, any state or group that chooses to participate will receive grants to fund financial literacy programs and tuition assistance to others in their state.
The proposed bill comes at a time when Democrats are pushing to eliminate all student loan debt, while Republicans are strictly against the idea.
President Biden is gathering information to determine if he could cancel student debt with an executive order instead of having to go through Congress.
This is the second bipartisan bill the two senators have proposed together with the first regarding raising the minimum wage.