Education was the only way I was able to break out of poverty and into the middle class, but those same opportunities that I had are not available to the next generation of Americans. I will support tuition-free public universities and community colleges, and I will advocate for reforming the student loan program to include fair interest rates.
Education was the reason why I was able to achieve the American Dream. I was only ableto afford a college education because of Pell Grants, student loans, and income from part-time jobs. And that was in a time when tuition costs were much lower and federal subsidies to state universities were much higher. Politicians are making the American Dream unaffordable by cutting college subsidies and raising interest rates on student loans.
My district in the State Legislature has two Miami-Dade College campuses, and I’ve voted to support them by expanding the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship. Additionally, I’ve voted for teacher and principal pay raises and opposed measures to cut public school funding, prevent teacher unionization, and attack our locally elected school boards. But only so much can be done on the state level, and Congress cannot continue to ignore our education crisis.
Make 4-year Public Universities and Community Colleges Tuition-Free. Tuition costs have increased exponentially over the last generation, which makes it easy to forget that states like California and New York once didn’t charge tuition at some of the best state universities. High college cost hurt both sides—it forsakes students’ financial futures and also limits the applicant pool of all American colleges and universities. We can’t continue on like this, and we can only stop it with comprehensive solutions.
Refinance Student Loans and Reduce Interest Rates. We need to stop predatory student lending practices and let the next generation of American workers contribute organically to our economy with skilled labor, not student debt interest. Right now, student loan interest rates are nearly double that of a standard auto loan. We need to cut interest rates to stop burdening a generation of workers with a lifetime of debt.
Strengthen Historically Black Colleges, Universities and Community Colleges. HBCUs provide are critical to maintaining the accessibility of our education system and opening a pathway to the middle class to marginalized families. But all too often, they do not have sufficient endowment or federal funding to keep up with operating costs. I will support additional funding so these institutions can meet the demands of 21st century higher education.
Pass Universal Pre-K. In this country, too many students enter the education system already behind compared to their wealthier peers. I will support Universal Pre-K to help reduce educational disparities between students of low and high-income families.