The average Minnesota student graduates from college over $25,000 in debt. That's one reason why one of Senator Franken's top priorities in Washington is making college more affordable for Minnesota students and families.
Senator Franken helped lead the effort in the Senate to pass historic reforms to the federal college financial aid system. He stood with Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin to push for the passage of these reforms as part of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, which President Obama signed into law on March 30, 2010. This law eliminated the wasteful subsidies that the federal student loan program used to pay banks. It used the savings to increase the Pell grant, and to make it easier for low-income college graduates to repay their students loans.
Senator Franken also supports expanding the American Opportunity Tax Credit. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus bill, middle-class families can get a tax credit of up to $2,500 per student for college expenses for 2009 and 2010. Senator Franken supported the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act which extended that credit through 2011. He also supports President Obama's proposal to make that tax credit permanent, and he would like to see that credit expanded to cover up to $5,000 per student per year.
Senator Franken will continue to be a strong advocate for reforms that will benefit Minnesota students and families struggling with the high cost of tuition, and is eager to find solutions to stop the rapid increase in college tuition costs. Senator Franken believes we need to rein in college costs in Minnesota and across the country, and he will continue to work with his colleagues in the Senate to find ways to address this situation.