Fighting for strong public schools, affordable higher education, and better pay and benefits for our teachers are among Congresswoman Trahan’s top priorities in Congress. Rep. Trahan is especially focused on working to uplift the vocational schools and community colleges. When we commit to supporting equitable education opportunities, we are committing to a better future.
House Education and Labor Committee
On January 22, 2019, Congresswoman Trahan was named to the influential House Committee on Education and Labor. She serves on the subcommittees for Higher Education and Workforce Investment (HEWI) and Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions (HELP). Rep. Trahan is the only Massachusetts representative serving on this Committee.
She is particularly encouraged by the robust support for programs like Head Start, TRIO, and Pell Grants. These are worthy investments that directly reflect our shared values and underscore the importance of higher education accessibility.
One of the most meaningful actions we can take to make higher education more accessible is to confront the growing student debt crisis. Representative Trahan is a proud cosponsor of The Employer Participation in Repayment Act, which would address the student loan debt crisis by encouraging employers to offer student loan assistance as a tax-exempt benefit for employees to help pay down their debt.
This bill would help companies recruit and retain young talent by allowing them to assist employees with student loan debt in the same way they currently help with continued education benefits.
For many students and families, a college education will be the first—and perhaps biggest—financial investment that they will ever make. As tuition costs skyrocket, students are all too often choosing where to go without a clear sense of their return on investment. That isn’t right.
To change that reality, Congresswoman Trahan is leading two bills focused on major reforms in how consumer information regarding higher education is presented.
The College Data Access Act
Representative Trahan introduced H.R. 3026, the College Data Access Act. This bill would codify the College Scorecard and mandate publicly funded institutions of higher education to prominently feature a link to this tool on their website homepage. The Scorecard is an online consumer tool that provides students with a better look at one’s potential return on investment for each college.
The bill would also require the Department of Education to annually update and improve the College Scorecard so that students, parents, institutions, and researchers can utilize the important information it showcases. By continually improving this tool, prospective students will have a more complete sense of their postsecondary options. The Scorecard will include institution and program-level data such as net costs of attendance, transfer and enrollment rates, graduation rates, average loan debt, threshold earnings, and average earnings after graduation.
Greater access to this data will empower students and families to make the decision that is right for them, without rolling the dice on their financial security.
The Financial Aid Communication and Transparency (FACT) Act
For many students, navigating the financial aid process can be confusing, especially for first-generation or low-income students. I remember the stress my parents and I experienced trying to make sense of financial aid forms and awards as a first-generation graduate.
Accounting for confusing and unclear jargon that can often be found in student assistance letters, it can be hard to know how much a prospective student would be expected to pay or how much they’d be required to take out in loans. Because of the lack of standardization, there is also no good way of comparing aid offers from different colleges.
Representative Trahan's bill, The Financial Aid Communication and Transparency (FACT) Act, ensures that all students receive clear financial aid offers from each institution they’re accepted to attend and during every year of enrollment.
Each aid offer will also include a standardized quick reference box, which will provide students the most important information on college costs and financial aid in a quick and easy-to-read format, making it possible for them to easily compare financial aid offers and choose the institution that best meets their needs.
Through the FACT Act, I hope to help college students who are currently being forced to navigate an unnecessarily complex path to postsecondary education. This bill isn’t done yet, but it will be soon – I look forward to its introduction.
* indicates the Congresswoman is an Original Cosponsor of that legislation.