One of the most decisive and controversial elections in our lifetime is finally over. Due to the turmoil from the final results of the presidential election, less serialized campaigns unfortunately fell into the background. Such as the victory of Chris Van Hollen, Maryland’s newest senator.
Van Hollen began his political career in the House of Representatives and now presides over the Senate. With a 100 percent approval rating from the National Education Association, Van Hollen has the potential to improve the financial issues plaguing numerous college students and recent graduates today.
Although he will not be sworn into office until January of 2017, his track record and accomplishments in relation to the House have proven to be strictly pro-education. By voting “Yes” on many bills in that benefit college students, constituents can be fairly confident in his sincerity and dedication towards improving higher education for all.
Severely debilitating student loans is a unique issue that our generation is facing. The baby-boomers very often managed tuition and a part time job semi-comfortably. With tuition constantly rising, the previous generation’s strategy is no longer a viable option for many current students.
As most college students are aware, debt slavery is a common new phrase. This very realistic worry almost entirely exists due to the monetary strain that comes with a higher education. Consequently, Van Hollen is being counted on to uphold his reputation when it comes to public education.
Van Hollen voted “Yes” to provide $84 million to traditionally Black and Hispanic schools for the Pell Grant, which is determined by financial need. By increasing the budget for this government grant, it will allow countless more students to comfortably attend university without the worry of financially burdening their support system or even themselves for years to come.
Nirav Shah, a junior computer science major, stated that, “Van Hollen’s decision to boost Pell Grant funds will be beneficial to so many students in the University System of Maryland who are struggling to acquire financial aid.”
Lowering the interest rates on student loans has also proved to be a controversial topic on Capitol Hill. The expensive yet effective step would possibly remove much of the debt issues that numerous college graduates face.
Van Hollen co-sponsored the Student Loan Affordability Act in 2013 which would have served to extend a 3.4 percent interest rate on loans given between 2011 to 2015. The act never made it past the Senate. Now that Van Hollen is a part of the Senate, he will be able to introduce education reform and bills which are similar to the Affordability Act during his time as a Senator.
The issue of debt slavery and extraordinarily high student loans is one that must be paid attention and college students should urge Senator Van Hollen to sustain his 100 percent NEA rating through practical and passionate new legislation.