In elementary school, I was captain of the safety patrol. Today, I serve on a different kind of safety patrol in Washington. I am working to ensure that, among other things, every young person has the opportunity to obtain the education necessary to achieve their full God-given potential.
The stakes are high. Economists agree that strategic investment in education is one of the best ways to help America become more productive and competitive, yet tens of millions of Americans are strapped with student debt, including many here in San Antonio. We cannot continue to expect improvements in the economy if we do not set up the next generation for a fighting chance at receiving high-quality higher education.
Fighting for you. As college costs rise, access to student aid becomes even more critical to a student’s ability to pursue higher education. We know what works, and I am committed to furthering these solutions in Congress. Pell Grants should not be cut, they should be expanded. The still too-complicated Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), despite my own prior legislative efforts, should be further simplified.
Loan interest rates should be reduced and other steps taken to ensure a diploma is not accompanied by a mountain of student debt. I successfully authored the “More Education” tax credit, which provides a tax cut to families up to $10,000 over four years. This money can help pay for textbooks, tuition and other education-related expenses. Lessening the economic burden of higher education on families makes an important difference when the college and university system alone does not provide adequate support.
Important changes. College-bound students need to know how to access every penny for which they are eligible under existing rules. Thanks in part to legislation that I fought for, earlier, easier FAFSA filing took effect on Oct.1 for the 2017-2018 school year, instead of in January. Another significant change is that those of you filing your application for financial aid this year can use 2015 tax data. Since students can now access information about their federal aid eligibility earlier, scholarship, grant and other aid providers will also now have more information available to them to make earlier award decisions, all of which will benefit students.
My friends at P16Plus Council, which combines data and community partnerships to help boost education in Bexar County, shared with me that by not completing FAFSA in the 2015-2016 school year, Bexar County students left over $20 million on the table. Now that the FAFSA is easier and available earlier in the year, I hope to see more students take full advantage of the financial aid support available.
Accessing resources. There is also helpful information available in our local high schools and on the web. From San Antonio Independent School District to North East ISD, be sure to talk to your teachers and counselors, and to use the resources available at fafsa.ed.gov and on the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid site, studentaid.ed.gov. I have also recently updated my website, Doggett.house.gov, to make it even more helpful. Visit it and click on “Serving You,” then on “For Students” to learn about other resources.
We know it works. Higher education offers a high return on every dollar of federal investment. So many social ills are linked with one’s ability to earn a college degree. For students willing to work hard to obtain higher education, we must be willing to do the hard work of making it more affordable. Whether learning at the Alamo Colleges or enrolling somewhere out of state, students should feel supported by our community.
An investment in students is truly an investment in America. Let me hear your higher education story or your thoughts on any other federal issue by emailing me atLloyd.Doggett@mail.house.gov.