Democratic U.S Senate candidate Amanda Curtis presented a six-point plan today that she says would help Montanans who are struggling with student debt.
The high school math teacher from Butte visited the University of Montana's mountain campus in Missoula to outline the plan she says would serve as an investment in students.
Curtis told the crowd of about 30 people that rising student loan debt has become an economic crisis that's deterring young people from furthering their education and saddling graduates with insurmountable debt.
She says she comes from humble beginnings, worked hard to pay for her education and conceded she still has $24-thousand-dollars in student loan debt.
Curtis says her six-point plan would:
- Allow people with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at a fixed-rate of 4-percent.
- Strengthen the Pell Grant program by establishing it as an automatic funding program with a cost-of-living automatic adjustment to the maximum grant.
- She would support legislation that invests more in career and technical schools as well as expanding and supporting apprenticeship programs.
- Provide students with financial counseling.
- Provide veterans with student loan protections and expand veteran tuition benefits.
- Forgive student debt for Native American graduates who return to their reservation to work and invest in their communities.
"College graduates are defaulting on their student loans at the highest rate in nearly two decades, which has disastrous consequences for students' future economic opportunities. I'll push for legislation that will empower students and provide them with annual counseling under the federal loan program so that they're less likely to end up defaulting on their loans and to have a secure economic future."
Curtis also vowed that if elected, she'd promote legislation to provide veterans with student loan protections and expand veteran tuition benefits.
She also says education is a critical part of helping lift Native American Reservations out of poverty. Curtis says she'd promote student debt forgiveness for Native grads who return to their reservation to work and invest in their communities.
Darlene Samson works on the U-M Campus with the TRiO Student Support Services program. TRiO provides first generation and low income college students and students with disabilities a host of services to succeed in college. Samson describes Curtis as an intriguing Senate candidate:
"I just really feel that she has educational issues at the heart of her campaign and I know she's always been a supporter of TRiO programs across the state and nation, so I'm all for her."
Samson says she like what she heard today about Curtis's plan to address student debt and looks forward to hearing more details.