Senator Wyden secures major provision of introduced college affordability bill

In an attempt to make higher education more affordable for students and families, Senator Ron Wyden D-Ore. in early December announced a bipartisan deal on a major bill he had previously introduced.

The bill would help by providing tax relief and implementing economic certainty for students who want to pursue a college education.

“This is a significant step forward, but there is more to be done to help students and families afford college,” said Hank Stern, a press secretary for Sen. Wyden.

This fall, the PARTNERSHIPS Act was introduced with the intention of lowering the cost of tuition.

A major component of the PARTNERSHIPS Act was included in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015. The intention of the bill is to help working families and permanently place the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

Under this agreement, a permanent AOTC will assist a tax cut of about $10,000 for four years to help students pay for higher education.

Without the legislation in place, this provision runs the risk of ceasing to exist after just two years, which would hamper families and students’ future plans.

Earlier this fall, students from Eugene and Ashland addressed both Sen. Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., regarding their concerns about rising college debt.

“I have taken out a decent amount of money in loans, so I’m constantly thinking and worrying about paying back my loans after I graduate,” University of Oregon junior Emilee Nut said. “I think students are having to take out loans now more than ever to afford, not only school, but the living costs associated with going to school.”

As the demand for lowering tuition continues, so does the rise in student debt.

Studies show that more students are graduating with debt. According to America’s Debt Help Organization, the average borrower for the class of 2013 carried more than $35,200 in student loan debt. In Oregon, the average student graduating with debt owes more than $25,000, according to Wyden’s college affordability bill press release.

“I think debt is something I try not to think about because some debt is inevitable,” UO junior Danielle Stipe said. “But it is something that is always on the back of my mind. I think it’s hard for those who want to go out of state because not only do they have to worry about the cost of tuition, but also living expenses. Rising tuition needs to stop. There is no reason for books to be as costly as they are.”

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Yuliana Barrales

Yuliana Barrales