San Diego’s economy runs on brainpower. Innovation and job creation happen when we have world-class schools and educated children. We need to make sure our K-12 education system is preparing our kids for college, and ensure that any student who qualifies and wants to go to college can afford to do so. For those who do not choose a four-year degree, we must work toward establishing our community colleges as centers for job training and placement.
America has always stood behind middle-class kids who want to get an education and make a living. I know because I was one of those kids. My family could not have afforded college for me and my three sisters on the minister’s salary my father earned. We got help from financial aid, including loans and work-study. So did thousands of other kids, as well as veterans who had the GI Bill.
Education is key to making our economy strong. I passed a law with Democrats and Republicans to cut student loan interest rates, and introduced another to reduce rates further because it’s wrong for the federal government to make money on students and their families. I will keep fighting to make college more affordable while working to invest more in science, engineering, biotechnology, and research at San Diego’s universities that create the jobs of the future.
Preparing Students for the 21st Century Economy
The path to success for our students is high quality education from pre-K to post-grad. Ensuring a strong core of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) before college gives our students the foundation they need to flourish in San Diego’s internationally known research universities so they can lead our innovation economy in the years to come.
That’s why I’ve supported grants to build tech infrastructure in our schools and for renewable energy education programs that help students train for jobs building and maintaining our green energy systems.
San Diego has built an economic incubator for the biotech industries that are critical to our growing economy. By investing in the next generation, we can ensure they are ready to not only succeed, but innovate and continue leading San Diego forward.
Keeping College Affordable
I am a product of student loans, and I know that my achievements would not have been possible if these loans weren’t available to kids like me who might not otherwise have been able to afford to pay for a four-year university. America invested in me, and now I want to make sure these same opportunities are there for my children’s generation and those who follow.
Unfortunately, the cost of higher education has skyrocketed while the middle class has taken an economic beating, and studies have shown that these spiking costs are hitting poor students the hardest. With grant money declining and costs increasing, the poorest students are having to dig the deepest and take on more and more debt just to have their shot at the American Dream. It’s one of the reasons I decided to run for Congress. And I know we can do better.
In Congress, I’ve fought to keep college costs under control and prevent the burden of student debt from blocking progress for young graduates. For example, I supported and passed a bipartisan bill to lower student loan interest rates, and introduced another to lower them further. The government should not be making a profit on the backs of hardworking students and their families. I cosponsored the Student Loan Relief Act and Student Loan Interest Deduction Act to help students entering college, and I cosponsored the Get Relief from Academic Debt Act and Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Act to help students who face tough times after graduation. Working across the aisle to overcome partisan gridlock, we’ve begun to identify the policies that can address these challenges, and now it’s important to see them through.
Addressing Student Debt
The cost of higher education and the collective debt of young people hinders economic growth and opportunity. To help young Americans begin to make investments like buying a home or saving for retirement, I introduced and helped pass the Employer Participation in Repayment Act. It incentivizes employers to help pay their employees’ student loans. The bill was included in the CARES Act of March 2020 and received a five-year extension under the FY21 federal spending package signed by President Biden.