Rep. Howse Joins Democratic Colleagues To Fight For Debt-free College
Says access to higher education crucial in today's job market

Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) and fellow Democratic lawmakers from around the country held a conference call yesterday to address concerns over growing student loan debt. The call was part of a national campaign urging state lawmakers to enact policies promoting debt-free college.

“Access to higher education is more important in today’s job market than ever before, but rising college costs leave too many graduates with crippling debt,” said Howse. “Growing student debt has far-reaching consequences, and by enacting policies to promote debt-free college, we can ensure that every Ohioan has access to affordable higher education. College graduates should leave school with marketable skills and a degree—not mountains of debt. It’s time to make college affordable again.”

In Ohio, some 68 percent of students graduate with student loan debt, matching the national average. Debt-free college plans would largely eliminate this debt-rate for students attending public colleges and universities by reducing tuition costs, pushing to release more federal aid to states, increasing overall student aid and implementing innovative strategies to reduce college costs.

“To make debt-free college a reality, we must tackle rising costs up front,” added Howse. “We need to embrace technology and give students who are coming into college the chance to have many of the intro-level courses out of the way before they step foot on campus. This will undoubtedly cut costs and work to make debt-free college a reality.”

A number of proposals have called for increased college credit received at the high school level, including expanding Advanced Placement (AP) course options, creating dual-enrollment programs, Early College High School programs and Accelerated Degrees.

Lawmakers have also called for a standardized credit transfer process, increased online learning opportunities, investments in technology to reduce overhead costs and reducing the cost of textbooks by expanding open-access or making them available online.

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