Congressman Rick Nolan has introduced a bill that may help students pay their way through school by making it more affordable, and also by raising the amount of money students make while in school. His bill, the Restore Democracy Act, introduces seven major reforms that will affect Congress. The Restore Democracy Act will change the way politics are done in Washington, and according to Nolan students will benefit from the bill — should it pass — regarding their tuition.
“It’s your future and your children’s future,” Nolan said. “I was able to work my way through the university. Why? Because the university costs were a fraction back then than what they are now.”
Nolan also said that the minimum wage, relative to the prevailing wage, was better when he was in school than it is now. Now, it’s too difficult for students to completely pay for their college with a minimum wage job.
“It’s impossible, in my judgment, to work your way through a university,” Nolan said. “The costs are just too great, and the wages and the income are too low. It doesn’t work.”
Approximately seven out of 10 seniors nationwide graduate with student debt, and this has a negative impact on the economy according to Nolan.
“It’s bad for the economy to be graduating people from colleges and universities with the kind of debt that they have,” Nolan said. “It hurts the economy; they can’t get into buying their first home or buying a decent car.”
Along with his Restore Democracy Act, Nolan said that he is planning three more actions that will address student-loan debt.
“One is to raise the minimum wage,” Nolan said, in an effort to increase the income of students with part-time jobs.
“Two, the government needs to fund a greater share of education to bring tuition costs down to a level that is affordable. If it were up to me,” Nolan added, “I would have government funding for four years of college or technical education free of charge. I just believe that there’s no better investment we could ever make.”
Nolan is also sponsoring legislation that would allow students to renegotiate their loans. He said that since business people are able to renegotiate their loans, there’s no reason that students shouldn’t be able to do the same.
“I’m a business guy; business people renegotiate their loans all the time,” Nolan said. “You’re stuck with a high interest rate — your business is not doing as well as you’d hoped, (so) you’d go in and renegotiate your loan. But students can’t do it? They can’t apply to dispense with their loan agreements through bankruptcy? As a businessperson, you can. I think students should have that same privilege.
“Off the top of the mind, get some income to students, lower the cost of education, and, in the meantime, allow them to renegotiate their loans.”
The Restore Democracy Act is one of Nolan’s first steps towards reaching his goal. Included in the bill is a reform that will restrict spending on congressional campaigns to a period of 60 days before an election. This would allow members of Congress to spend less time fundraising and more time governing according to Nolan.
All the reforms are meant to give members of Congress the ability to govern instead of fundraise and promote their respective party. Though he has been criticized for trying to get Congress “back to the good old days,” Nolan still believes that this is what is best.
“We need to change the way we do politics,” Nolan said.
BY SAM STROM News Editor