(January 8th, 2016)  At Hartford Public High School, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) joined Hartford Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, Executive Director of Hartford Promise Richard Sugarman, Career Beginnings College Counselor Connor Henderson, Dayl Walker of CBIA, and principals Melony Brady-Shanley and Jose Colon to  discuss ideas with students around an initiative to address the national crisis of college affordability.  He heard first-hand from high school students about the impact of the rising cost of college, and how difficult it is to afford. The Senator will use those stories to inform and propel a national effort he will help lead in the Senate in 2016.
Student loan debt currently approaches $1.2 trillion nationwide, outpacing credit card debt and auto loan debt, hindering home ownership, retirement savings, basic household spending and career choices for millions of graduates, and crippling national economic growth.
Blumenthal has previously called for two free years of community college and allowing borrowers to refinance existing loan debt so they can take advantage of lower interest rates currently offered to new students.  He has also called for measures to improve the existing Public Service Loan Program, and measures to address overall college costs, including tuition and textbooks. In addition, Blumenthal has fought for comprehensive loan forgiveness for borrowers that were defrauded by for-profit colleges.

The Hartford Public High School students who shared their experiences with Senator Blumenthal included from the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology, Ahmed Hassan, Jazmine Brown, Laura Webster, Shyesha Washington, and Aaronda Hill;  from the Academy of Nursing and Health Sciences: William Jones, Monique Bennett, Lahesha Tracey, and Neyshmarie Cosme;  from the Law and Government Academy: Edgardo Cosme, Jonathan colon, Bria Payne, Shakira Flores, and Joselyn Labay.

The group of well-spoken, bright students were joined (L. to R.) by Principal Melony Brady-Shanley, HPS Communications Director Pedro Zayas, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Principal Jose Colon, Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, and Hartford Promise Executive Director Richard Sugarman.

“I am proud to be helping lead a new initiative on student debt with ideas that I have heard from young people, parents and educators from across Connecticut. This new initiative is likely to include ideas I have advocated such as cutting the amounts and costs of debt– working toward the goal of debt free college. Across Connecticut, I have seen the financially crippling effects of such debt– students and parents working second and third jobs, families delaying home purchases and major life decisions, and young students unable to attend schools where they worked so hard to gain admission. These stories will help inform and propel a national effort I will help lead in the Senate this year to combat the crisis of college affordability,” Blumenthal said.

The Senator plans to reconvene the group to share progress in two months.  The group was joined by news crews from Fox 61 and Channel 3 WFSB.

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