EDUCATION

Romney behind bipartisan bill to tackle student loan debt

Apr 16, 2021, 4:17 PM
romney debt...
FILE -- Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, pauses to answer questions from reporters as senators arrive to vote on President Joe Biden's nominee for United Nation's ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, teamed up with an Arizona Democrat to tackle student loan debt with a new bill aimed at making college more affordable. 

One to $8 match program

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., co-sponsored the bipartisan “Earn to Learn Act” with Romney. It aims to help low-income students get to college with minimal debt through a matched-savings program. Under the legislation, qualifying low-income students and adult learners could apply for a savings match program. They could then use the savings program to pay for tuition, books, fees, and other education-related expenses.

“We must do better to ensure American students have the skills and training necessary to pursue good-paying jobs that keep up with our changing economy,” said Romney in a statement.

To benefit, students must make contributions to an education savings account. For each dollar saved, a participating state or non-profit will give an $8 match. Students could access the savings fund money once they enroll in an educational institution. 

Romney: Bill helps students get education without debt

Additionally, the legislation provides grants for tuition assistance and financial literacy training to states and non-profits that decide to participate in the program. 

“Our legislation will help students pursue their education by equipping them with the financial resources and knowledge they need to attend college, career, and technical schools without the burden of being saddled with debt when they graduate,” added Romney. 

Modeled on Arizona program

The Earn to Learn Act models a similar program already established in Arizona. Arizona’s Earn to Learn program has been around for a decade. Earn to learn scholars have a first-year retention rate of around 90% and the majority graduate with little or no student loan debt.

“Education was my key to opportunity, and I’m committed to ensuring all Arizona students have the same access to higher education that I did. Creating a college-matched savings program helps Arizona students save for school while teaching the importance of money-management,” Sinema said.

However, the state’s program only assists those who qualify for Pell Grant aid.  

Romney and Sinema introduced the act during the 2020-2019 session as well. 

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Romney behind bipartisan bill to tackle student loan debt