Congressman Mark Pocan

Representing the 2nd District of Wisconsin
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Pocan Introduces CPC Debt-Free College Amendment to House Republican Budget

Mar 17, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with CPC First-Vice Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) released statements today after Rep. Pocan offered the CPC’s debt-free college resolution as an amendment to the House Republican budget. First introduced in April 2015 by the CPC co-chairs along with Senators Schatz, Schumer and Warren, the resolution prioritizes making debt free college a reality.

Over the last 30 years, the cost of college has increased by 300 percent, forcing some students to take on overwhelming student loan debt and putting a college degree entirely out of reach for others. Student loan debt is now the highest form of personal debt in the nation, reaching over $1.3 trillion for 38 million student loan borrowers across the country. Students graduating from public universities leave with an average of $28,950 of debt.

“A college education is an essential tool for getting into the middle class. Yet it’s become all too common to accept the fact that students must graduate with crushing levels of debt,” Rep. Pocan said. “It’s time to end the reliance on debt as a way to finance a college education. We need to work with students, universities, states, and the federal government to ensure college is affordable and accessible for everyone.”

“Education remains the single greatest avenue of upward mobility our society has ever known,” Rep. Grijalva said.  “If Republicans truly want their budget to create an economy and a society that works for every American, then they should ensure a college degree is within reach for anyone committed to earning it. I commend Rep. Pocan for fighting for students today. The fact that the GOP failed to accept his amendment speaks volumes about the vision they want their budget to be.”

“Too many students are forced to choose between continuing their education or a lifetime of debt,” Rep. Ellison said. “The financial burden of student loans limits the career choices of students and their ability to buy homes, save, or start a family. If we want to make sure that going to college doesn't mean giving up a secure future, we must make college affordable. Debt free college is a way to ensure that anyone who wants a brighter future is able to seek one without crushing debt.”

In April 2015, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Senators Schatz, Schumer, and Warren introduced resolutions in the House and Senate supporting efforts to ensure that students have access to debt-free higher education. The House Resolution, H. Res. 214, currently has 78 Democratic cosponsors and the Senate Resolution has 23 cosponsors.

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