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WATCH: Sen. Ossoff Working to Make College More Affordable and Expand Access to Tuition-Free Job Training Programs

Sen. Ossoff called on Congress to expand the Pell Grant program and make job training programs tuition-free

Washington, D.C. –– U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff is pushing for Congress to pass measures to make college more affordable and to make job training programs tuition-free for Georgians and all Americans.

Yesterday in a U.S. Senate Banking Committee hearing, Sen. Ossoff called on Congress to expand the Pell Grant program to make it possible for Georgians to obtain a college degree from public universities and HBCUs without taking on debt.

The Pell Grant expansion proposed by Sen. Ossoff would benefit low-income Georgians. A vast majority of Pell Grant recipients come from families with an income of less than $40,000 per year.

At the same Banking Committee hearing, Sen. Ossoff also pushed to make job training programs tuition-free, noting that an HVAC certificate, a welding certificate, or a commercial driving license, for example, can be the ticket to a middle-class income and standard of living.

“The kind of opportunity that access to public college and HBCU education without debt would make for the people of Georgia would be extraordinary,” Sen. Ossoff said in the hearing. “And that’s why I’m advocating now that this Congress act to expand the Pell Grant program to make higher education accessible to all Americans, through our public colleges and HBCUs.”

Persis Yu, theDirector of the National Consumer Law Center Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project, agreed with Sen. Ossoff that expanding Pell Grants and making job training free would both “make a huge difference.”

WATCH: Sen. Ossoff Working to Make College More Affordable, Expand Free Job Training for Georgians

Please find a transcript of Sen. Ossoff’s line of questioning below:

SEN. OSSOFF: “I want to ask you, Ms. Yu, about college affordability. My personal belief is that you shouldn’t have to take on a penny of debt to get a degree from a public college in this country, or to get a degree from an HBCU in this country. The kind of opportunity that access to public college and HBCU education without debt would make for the people of Georgia would be extraordinary. And that’s why I’m advocating now that this Congress act to expand the Pell Grant program to make higher education accessible to all Americans, through our public colleges and HBCUs without debt. What kind of a difference would expansion of the Pell Grant program make, for example, to the folks that your organization serves?”

MS. PERSIS YU: “It would make a huge difference. We absolutely need to move away from a system of financing higher education through debt. Debt is holding back my clients, it is keeping them from being able to fulfill the promises, it also allows them to take the chance on an education, right? Like that’s one of the problems that our clients see is that they’re trying, they’re trying and some of them don’t succeed. And we need to lower the risks of attempting to improve your lives and make, you know, get an education and have an opportunity to feed your family. We need to lower the risks. We need to move away from debt-financed higher education.”

SEN. OSSOFF: “And, Ms. Yu, expanding opportunity can also mean expanding access to skills, job training, vocational training. And just as I believe that you shouldn’t have to take on debt to get a four year degree from a public college, I think we should be working to make access to job training and vocational skills free in this country. We have a national interest in having a highly skilled workforce, and there are so many people in Georgia and across the country for whom an HVAC certificate, a welding certificate, a commercial driving license is the ticket to a middle-class standard of living. What kind of a difference would it make in communities across this country to offer free job training and vocational training?”

MS. PERSIS YU: “It would make a huge difference.”

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