Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan network of state and district education chiefs, is pleased to support the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, which will promote financial literacy and help students make informed decisions about how to pay for their higher education. Every year, the nation celebrates as high school seniors receive diplomas and enter the world of higher education and the workforce. Although a record number of students now complete high school on time—84 percent as of 2016—we as K-12 systems leaders are deeply concerned that options to pay for postsecondary education are practically unnavigable for many of our graduates, and they end up often burdened by crushing debt. This legislation takes an important step in addressing the problem.
Americans owe more than $1.4 trillion in student loan debt and tuition costs continue to rise; this creates an enormous gap between the promise of higher education and the reality so many of our low-income students face. In addition to their need more for more financial support, students need help accessing financial aid and navigating an ever more complex system of loans and grants.
If H.R. 1635 becomes law, students will receive enhanced counseling services on topics like Pell grants and PLUS loans—and they will have easier access to more comprehensive information on the terms, conditions, and responsibilities associated with a grant or loan. In addition, students would receive financial literacy counseling on more general information like what constitutes a typical student budget, their right to request an annual credit report, average income and employment data, and financial management resources.
“We are pleased to see the House move this legislation forward,” said Chiefs for Change CEO Mike Magee, “and we applaud bill sponsors Reps. Guthrie and Bonamici for their hard work in crafting this important bill to give students the financial tools and information they need to make wise financial decisions about their future.”