News Column

DSCC: On Student Loans, Would Joni Ernst Continue Standing with Special Interests & Against Iowa College Students?

June 12, 2014



WASHINGTON, June 12 -- The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued the following news release:

Today as Republicans in Congress voted en masse against making college more affordable, Joni Ernst is refusing to say whether she would also put special interests ahead of Iowa college students or vote to pass a measure that would help Iowa students with the crushing weight of student loan debt. Iowans have a right to know exactly where Ernst stands.

Ernst has called for an end to federal student loans and even said we can't do anything to help students with their existing loan rates. Ernst also opposed critical Iowan tuition assistance programs that help Iowans afford college.

With a record like that, Iowans must assume Ernst would vote against making college more affordable for working families by closing tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires and using the savings to allow anyone with pre-existing student loans to refinance their loans at lower rates. In Iowa alone, 311,000 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/student_debt_report_final.pdf)borrowers could benefit from refinancing their student loans at a lower rates. Would Joni Ernst have sided with special interests and voted against helping Iowans with student loan debt?

"Iowa students and families deserve to know where Joni Ernst stands on the bill that would help more than 300,000 Iowans with student loan debt," said Justin Barasky, a spokesman at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "Iowans deserve to know if instead of fighting to make college more affordable for Iowa's students and families, Joni Ernst would vote to allow millionaires and billionaires to enjoy their tax breaks. Iowans deserve leaders who will fight for them in Washington, not reckless partisans like Joni Ernst who always puts the interests of her Washington special interest friends first."

BACKGROUND:

ERNST CALLED FOR AN END TO FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS

Ernst: "The Federal Government Has To Get Out Of The Student Loan Business." During a Republican Senate candidate forum sponsored by the Iowa State College Republicans, forum moderator Kevin Kimle asked: "What are your thoughts on the affordability of college education and role of the federal government related to that?" Joni Ernst responded: "Great question because right now in the United States there is about $1.2 trillion of student loan debt and so it is a very serious issue. And I agree; the federal government has to get out of the student loan business. Every time the federal government comes into situations like this, we see what happens. But what we need to ensure is that our students, as they're going off to whether it's a two-year institution, a community college, whether it's a four-year institution and beyond, we need to ensure that they're able to find student loans at reasonable rates within private banking entities. So let's get the federal government out of the business of student loans." [Iowa State College Republicans Senate Forum, Ames, IA, 4/2/14] (Video)

ERNST SAID WE CAN'T HELP STUDENTS WHO ALREADY HAVE LOANS WITH THEIR RATES

Ernst: "We Can't Help" Students Who Already Have Loans With Their Rates." Hoefert: "As a United States senator I would like you to address how you would tackle skyrocketing student loan debt which prevents many students from the financial flexibility to purchase homes and start businesses." Ernst: "That is a huge question and I think if we knew that answer we would already be hopefully implementing that, but it is a huge concern out there. I do have a daughter that's a freshman in high school. She is thinking ahead about what she wants to do in college so we do have to have reasonable rates for those students that are going off to college. We can't help that with those students that have already been there. They already have debt, but helping them perhaps extending the length of their loans, working with those interests rates we can perhaps ease them out into the market where they can purchase homes on their own." [Crawford County GOP Senate Forum, Westside, IA, 9/5/13] (Video)

ERNST OPPOSED PACE AND TUITION ASSISTANCE GRANTS PROGRAMS THAT HELPED IOWANS AFFORD COLLEGE

Ernst Criticized The PACE Program And Gap Tuition Assistance Program Passed By The Senate As "Another Example Of Government Waste And Inefficiency" Joni Ernst wrote in herErnst's Notes From The Capitol newsletter that "Finding Efficiencies in Government Sometimes finding new efficiencies in government can be a challenging task. It often requires careful review of state laws and administrative rules to determine the best ways to streamline government, eliminate duplication of services, and increase overall operating efficiencies. However, sometimes the best and the easiest way of finding efficiency in government is to stop inefficiency before it becomes law. The Iowa Senate recently passed Senate File 328. The bill would establish two new job training programs to be administered by the Department of Education and operated by the state's community colleges. The first is called Pathways for Academic Career and Employment (PACE) Program. The second is the Gap Tuition Assistance Program. Each program would be appropriated $5 million annually, totaling $10 million per year, for an indefinite period of time Regular Iowans are struggling to make ends meet, and the Senate Democrats are creating redundant programs, inefficiencies, and government waste." [Ernst's Notes From The Capitol, 3/24/11]

HEADLINE: Tuition GAP Program Helps People Get Into The Work Force Quickly [Mason City Globe Gazette, 2/3/14 (http://globegazette.com/news/local/tuition-gap-program-helps-people-get-into-the-work-force/article_d93e42ba-5ce2-5e06-8a1f-c98a38360ddb.html)]

Globe Gazette: "Donald Katterhenry Of Mason City Went From Being Unemployed To Making Good Pay As A Truck Driver Thanks To The GAP Tuition Assistance Program" The Mason City Globe Gazette reported: "Donald Katterhenry of Mason City went from being unemployed to making good pay as a truck driver thanks to the GAP Tuition Assistance Program. The Iowa Legislature funded the program last year to provide funding to community colleges for need-based tuition assistance to applicants to enable them to complete continuing education certificate training programs for in-demand occupations. Katterhenry, 44, applied for the program after losing his job at Graham Manufacturing in Mason City. Within a few weeks he was able to get into a course at NIACC called the Professional Driver Prep Program to get his commercial driver's license. He said the three-week course he took at NIACC requires students to drive a truck with an instructor sitting beside them, similar to driver's ed in high school. 'I think it has worked out great,' said Katterhenry, who began working as a driver for Des Moines-based TMC Transportation about four months ago. 'It got me on the road, making more than I made at Graham.'" [Mason City Globe Gazette, 2/3/14 (http://globegazette.com/news/local/tuition-gap-program-helps-people-get-into-the-work-force/article_d93e42ba-5ce2-5e06-8a1f-c98a38360ddb.html)]

HEADLINE: GAP Program At Iowa Western Helping Low-Income Students Access Education[Daily Nonpareil, 1/19/14 (http://m.nonpareilonline.com/news/local/gap-program-at-iowa-western-helping-low-income-students-access/article_f8d486fd-81ba-5dbc-81f1-f33a04d26881.html?mode=jqm)]

GAP Tuition Assistance Program Empowered Bartender Jade Johnson To Become Financially Stable Enough To Support Cancer-Stricken Mother. The Daily Nonpareil reported: "After working as a bartender for more than seven years, Jade Johnson was ready for a change. But what happened next wasn't necessarily the new situation she'd wanted: Her mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer and soon moved in with Johnson and her children. The Council Bluffs resident and Oakland native said she 'desperately needed' a steadier, more reliable job. She found the medical coding program offered at Iowa Western Community College - but, through a relatively new program, paid nothing for her certification. 'Not only did the class give me hope for the future and all that it has to offer, but it helped me teach my children a life lesson,' she said. 'My children got to see me work hard on my homework every day. 'They saw that if you make goals for yourself and work hard to reach them, that the sky is the limit on what you can accomplish.' Johnson is one of many success stories of the Continuing Education Department at Iowa Western through the GAP tuition assistance program. The program allows qualifying low-income students to sign up for classes and gain requisite skills and certification in a number of fields at no cost. In the coming months, Iowa Western is set to offer 10 GAP-approved training programs in health care, business, information technology, manufacturing and industry. 'GAP helps with non-credit programs because federal aid doesn't finance that,' said Sheri Splichal, the college's GAP coordinator. Someone who wants a CNA, they'd have to pay $485 for the class for certification.'" [Daily Nonpareil, 1/19/14 (http://m.nonpareilonline.com/news/local/gap-program-at-iowa-western-helping-low-income-students-access/article_f8d486fd-81ba-5dbc-81f1-f33a04d26881.html?mode=jqm)]

ERNST VOTED AGAINST $25.1 MILLION FOR TUITION REPLACEMENT AT REGENTS UNIVERSITIES

Ernst Voted Against $182 Million Rebuild Iowa Fund Budget, That Included $25.1 Million For Tuition Replacement At Regents Universities. On March 19, 2012, Joni Ernst voted against final passage of S.F. 2316 out of the Senate. The Quad-City Times reported that "Overall, the House's Rebuild Iowa fund budget calls for appropriations of $190.2 million. That's slightly higher than the Senate plan approved last week. It appropriated $182 million. The House version does not include the $150,000 the Senate appropriated for the Grout Museum and Sullivan Brothers Veterans Museum for its oral history exhibit associated with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The House plan matches the Senate's$25.1 million for tuition replacement at regents universities, but does not address Senate line items for the Iowa State University biosystems engineering complex, University of Iowa dental school building or the University of Northern Iowa'sBartlett Hall improvements and Baker Hall demolition." The measure was passed by a vote of 26-24 in the Senate and signed by the governor in June of 2012. [Senate Vote on SF 2316, Iowa State Senate Journal,3/19/12 ()https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/pubs/sjweb/pdf/March%2019,%202012.pdf#page=230; Senate File 2316 (http://coolice.legis.iowa.gov/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=billinfo&Service=Billbook&menu=false&ga=84&hbill=SF2316); Quad-City Times, 3/23/12]

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