Bill could give students less debt

A piece of legislation currently sitting at a standstill in the Senate Finance Committee will give middle class families access to the maximum amount of Federal Pell Grant money, according to officials of Sen. Martin Heinrich’s office.

The purpose of the Degrees Not Debt Act, sponsored by Heinrich, D-N.M., is to reduce the amount of student debt that many college students face, according to Heinrich’s website.

“There’s no doubt that a college education is still one of the surest ways to gain the skills needed to build a successful career, but we need to make sure New Mexicans have a fair shot at affording it without being crushed by debt,” said Heinrich. “Instead of giving tax breaks to the wealthy, we should be investing in a better economic future for our students.”

If the bill passes, the New Mexico secretary of state will develop a new application to help determine which families are eligible. Those who have an expected family contribution of zero will have to submit certain forms to ensure that they can receive the maximum amount of funding . The SOS will also consider families with less than or equal to the poverty line of their community.

Universities and colleges will be required to put a link to performance indicators on their school website. These indicators include: Graduation rates, transfer rates, withdrawal rates, employment outcomes and a survey for students.

According to, the average student debt for New Mexico students is over $21,000, and the student loan debt for all U.S. students is well over $1.4 trillion dollars.

For more information, visit www.congress.govor

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