This week, U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) supported four separate House-passed bills in order to improve higher education for students across the country.
These bills are to increase transparency, access and affordability and include the Student and Tax Family Simplification Act, the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act and the Empowering Students through Enhanced Counseling Act.
“Higher education is one of the key components to achieving the American dream,” said Denham. “It’s crucial that we modernize post-secondary education by making it as accessible and affordable as possible for students in the Central Valley and across the country. That’s one of the goals of the California Public Higher Education Caucus, which I co-founded, and one of the key ways we can help our bright young people secure the best jobs and the best futures.”
The Pew Research Center (PRC) found an 8.4 percent discrepancy in the unemployment rate among millennials with a bachelor’s degree or higher and those with a high school diploma. According to PRC, “on virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment—from personal earnings to job satisfaction to the share employed full time—young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education.”
“It’s clear that attaining a post-secondary degree means far greater opportunities for our young people,” said Denham. “The success of our economy depends on the achievements of our children and grandchildren, but higher education costs continue to skyrocket. Great institutions right here in the Central Valley—like CSU Stanislaus and Modesto Junior College—are doing everything they can to reach out to disadvantaged students. I’m hopeful this legislation will empower their efforts and that these bills will help hardworking families make smart decisions about higher education so students aren’t saddled with unworkable debt.”
These four measures combine the current tax benefits for higher education into one more valuable credit, called the American Opportunity Tax Credit. This credit will make it easier for families to navigate the federal financial aid process, provide crucial, clear information for students choosing a school and enable the Department of Education to use competency-based measures to allow for student advancement.