U.S. Education Secretary King, Sen. Brown, Rep. Fudge and Tri-C President Johnson Hold Roundtable Discussion on College Access, Affordability

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U.S. Education Secretary King, Sen. Brown, Rep. Fudge and Tri-C President Johnson Hold Roundtable Discussion on College Access, Affordability

August 19, 2016

CLEVELAND, Ohio – U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH-11), and Cuyahoga Community College President Alex Johnson today held a roundtable discussion on college access and affordability at Tri-C. Local students and campus leaders shared their stories and strategies to increase college access, make college affordable, and improve outcomes for all students.

"It was good to hear about the work that Tri-C is doing to align their programs with the practical skills and competencies employers want and need, so that the hard work of students to advance their skills lead to real career opportunities," King said. "We must continue to work to make all institutions of higher education- including community colleges- accessible, affordable and responsive to the needs of today's diverse students as well as to the needs of employers."

"Meeting students and campus leaders at Ohio's community colleges and universities helps inform the work I do in Washington to ensure that all students can realize the promise an education can provide," said Sen. Brown. "The cost of higher education should never discourage a student from pursuing her dream. We must use the lessons we learn at today's roundtable to make college more accessible and more affordable for students in Ohio and nationwide."

"As a Member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, making college more affordable is one of my top priorities. College is a pathway toward financial stability and career success; we must ensure every student has access to these opportunities," said Rep. Fudge. "Today's discussion with Secretary King, Senator Brown, Cuyahoga County College President Johnson, and students, is timely. The conversation leads our state and nation one step closer to developing policy solutions that will make higher education affordable for all."

Since the start of the Obama Administration, the U.S. Department of Education has worked to make college more affordable and increase college success, including doubling investments in Pell grants and tax credits to help students and their families pay for college, releasing better information on debt and outcomes through the College Scorecard that helps students and families make strong college choices, and allowing borrowers to affordably manage their debt through repayment options like President Obama's Pay As You Earn (PAYE) plan, which caps monthly payments at 10 percent of income. The President's budget includes funding for America's College Promise, which would provide two years of free community college for responsible students through a $60.3 billion investment in a new federal-state partnership over the next 10 years.

Sen. Brown has worked to make college more affordable and is a cosponsor of the In the Red Act, which would allow those with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at the lower interest rates currently offered to new borrowers and increase Pell Grants. The In the Red Act also includes the America's College Promise Act, which would make two years of community college tuition-free. Brown has also worked to increase and expand eligibility for the American Opportunity Tax Credit,which provides critical relief for middle-class families by allowing them to offset the cost of college tuition, books, and supplies.

To foster collaboration among Ohio universities and colleges, each year, Brown convenes Ohio's college and university presidents in Washington, D.C. for his annual Ohio College Presidents Conference, which celebrated its ninth year in 2016. Brown's forum – the first of its kind for college presidents in Ohio – brings together leaders from two-year, four-year, private, public, and community colleges to discuss shared challenges and goals for students and institutions of higher learning.