WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is turning to New York college students, student loan borrowers and their families to share their tales of woe in a push to tackle college affordability.
Schumer, D-N.Y., launched a statewide Internet campaign in a "renewed push in Congress to further address college affordability" in the 2016 legislative session. He hopes the stories will compel Congress into action. Schumer said higher education is a necessity that is being priced as a luxury.
"With tuition costs continuing to rise, middle-class families and their children are forced to take on significant debts in order to obtain a college diploma. Because of this, student loan debt is a huge burden on the shoulders of millions of young Americans, and it is holding back their ability to achieve the American Dream and is a significant drag on our economy," he said. "I am launching this campaign today to encourage students and parents and student loan debt holders to share their stories so we can finally force Congress to comprehensively address the issue of college affordability, which is key to the ongoing success of our economy."
Schumer joins the chorus of lawmakers, politicians and borrowers nationwide who are decrying skyrocketing college costs and mounting student loan debt nationwide. Today, borrowers owe a some $1.2 trillion in outstanding education debt. The average college graduate in New York owes $27,822, mirroring the national averages, the Institute for College Access & Success found.
In the past months, some federal measures have been enacted to soften the financial blow from a college education, including the passage of a two-year extension of the Federal Perkins Loan program. On a local level, governors have been pushing legislation aimed at making college more affordable, such as a proposal by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to increase college grants and eliminating the cap on the tax deduction for student loan interest.
Still, student advocates argue there is more that can be done, including tuition-free college and nationwide regulations that allow federal student debt to be refinanced or released through bankruptcy.
New Yorkers are encouraged to share their student loan stories with Schumer through Twitter, Facebook or on his website, www.schumer.senate.gov/college-affordability.