Colorado’s elected federal officials have been involved in legislation related to financing higher education.
U.S. Rep. Scott TiptonBorrowers in Tipton’s 3rd Congressional District are in debt about $27,000 on average, slightly higher than Colorado’s state average debt level.
However, about two-thirds of graduates have debt in the 3rd District, a higher rate than the state as a whole. About 10.6 percent of those 3rd District borrowers have defaulted on their loans. There were about 37,000 graduates in the 3rd District in 2015.
In the 2014 legislative session, Tipton, R-Cortez, voted in favor of several bills that called for assistance for higher education students, according to his website.
HR 4983, the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, passed the House in July 2014 but has not seen action in the Senate. The bill would mandate more transparency on the U.S. Department of Education’s College Navigator site, including more college cost calculation tools.
Tipton also supported HR 3136, the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act. The bill would measure higher education students’ knowledge and skills through assessments instead of, or in addition to, measuring just their credit hours.
U.S. Sen. Cory GardnerGardner, R-Yuma, has supported HR 3179, the Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. The legislation would provide more access to counseling for people who are considering federal student loans, according to a June 2016 release on Gardner’s website.
Colorado Reps. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, and Jared Polis, D-Boulder, sponsored the bill in the House with 36 other representatives. It passed the House in July 2016 and was referred to the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions but has not seen further action. Tipton also supported the bill.
U.S. Sen. Michael BennetBennet, D-Denver, supported instituting a private education loans ombudsman, which became part of the Dodd-Frank Act, passed in 2012. As part of that act, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau assists people who are having issues taking out a private student loan or need help managing repayment of such a loan, according to the Department of Education.
Along with Republican Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, Bennet supported SB 108, the Financial Aid Simplification and Transparency Act, introduced in 2015. The act would simplify the application process for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. SB 108 was introduced in the Senate in January 2015 and referred to the committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions but has not seen further action.