Access to a quality education is not a luxury; it is every child's right. I believe that we must provide every child with opportunities to be the best that he or she can be, regardless of background, socio-economic status, or geographic location.
There is absolutely no excuse for a young person to be denied an education because he or she can’t afford it, but more than 200,000 students miss out on college each year for this very reason. Education is a right, not a luxury, and my colleagues and I in the Congress are doing everything we can to keep the high cost of college from acting as a roadblock to our children’s futures.
In Fall 2013 I introduced two pieces of legislation that would help to provide more access to higher education for more students. The first, the FAFSA Fairness Act would make improvements to the form used to apply for federal student aid by making it more accessible for students from uniquely challenging personal backgrounds that can’t otherwise complete the form and apply for student aid without going through a complicated appeal process at every school they apply to.
The second, the Net Price Calculator Improvement Act, would improve the Net Price Calculator, a tool that students and families can use to get an idea of how much college will cost for them. My legislation will make the tool work better for those that use it by clarifying the information provided by the calculator, prohibiting the use of student information collected from being sold or used without the student’s consent, and would create a one-stop shop for comparing the information from each school a student is interested in.
I also continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to improve our financial aid system in other ways. I am a proud cosponsor of the Bank on Students Loan Refinancing Act which would allow existing student loan borrowers to refinance their loans at the same rates being offered to new borrowers. The bill would provide students with the ability to better manage their debts, much like other borrowers of home, auto, and corporate loans are already allowed to do.
In July 2009, I supported the College Cost Reduction and Access Act which made college loans more affordable to repay by allowing borrowers to establish income-based caps on their monthly loan payments and by reducing interest rates and increasing Pell Grants for qualified low- and moderate-income students. . The legislation invested more than $20 billion in college financial aid, including more than $370 million for Maryland families, at no additional cost to taxpayers. It was the single largest investment to help pay for college in more than 60 years.
I believe that knowing more about our country and where we’ve come from, can help us as we try to build a better future. Because of that belief, I introduced a bill that would expose more students to the lessons of Democracy contained in our Constitution and encourage them to get more involved in selecting the leaders of our nation.
The Constitution and Citizenship Day Act of 2009 (H.R. 3591) provides public and charter high schools with an incentive to expose students to the importance of the Constitution as well as distribute and collect voter registration forms from eligible students.
Voter turnout in our nation is embarrassingly low and the understanding of the foundation of our country is often equally poor. Young people now make up nearly a third of our electorate. We must ensure they are an educated electorate, not just in academic studies, but in the history and laws of our nation.
Constitution Dayfalls on September 17th of each calendar year normally without any wide public acknowledgement. The Constitution and Citizenship Day Act of 2009 provides public school districts with a financial grant award for using Constitution Day, September 17th as a day to teach students about the United States Constitution and the constitution of their state through participation. To be eligible school districts will hold assemblies, discussions, or presentations.
Early Childhood Education
Children are one of our most vulnerable populations, and we have an obligation to protect and provide for them. Studies have shown that young children with access to early care and education are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to be incarcerated in their lifetimes.
I have long been an outspoken advocate for the highly effective national Head Start program, which provides comprehensive education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.
I am a cosponsor of the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, H.R. 3461 which promotes high quality education for children from birth to age five. The bill would establish a new partnership between states and the federal government to encourage improvements at existing early childhood education programs and fund high quality programs for children from low-income families to make sure that their families limited resources does not prevent them from a lifetime of being one step behind their peers in school.
I also voted to approve the Agriculture Appropriations Conference Report which includes temporary extensions of expiring provisions of the laws governing the child nutrition programs resulting in a cost savings of $150 million. These savings will be reinvested to meet critical child nutrition needs across the country to ensure more children have year-round access to healthy and nutritious meals at school, in child care settings, and during the summer months.
More on Education
Washington, D.C. (Nov. 28, 2016) — Today, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) announced the winners of his 2016 Congressional App Challenge, Mr. Will Cervi, Ms. Priyanka Kargupta and Mr. Rees Draminski, all students at Mount Hebron High School. The students won for creating an app called Foodspin, which allows users to locate local restaurants.
Washington, D.C.(Sept. 13, 2016) — Today, U.S. Representatives Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07), Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02), Chris Van Hollen (MD-08), John P. Sarbanes (MD-03), Donna F. Edwards (MD-04), and John Delaney (MD-06) issued the following statement applauding the announcement of a new Maryland Academy for Innovation in National Security.
DURBIN, CUMMINGS INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO PUT COORDINATED FEDERAL OVERSIGHT OF FOR-PROFIT COLLEGE INDUSTRY INTO LAW
Committee to improve enforcement of federal law and increase for-profit college accountability to students and taxpayers established by executive action last year