Bennet’s Service Bill Offers New Opportunity to Make College More Affordable

Student could earn grants to help pay for school by engaging in civic service

Denver, CO – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet has introduced a bill to help put college back in reach for middle class families by giving students the opportunity to earn grant money or loan forgiveness by completing community or national service.

“A higher education is becoming a prerequisite to success in today’s rapidly changing economy,” Bennet said. “Unfortunately, college is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many families. This bill can help by offering an earned benefit to students who commit to working hard, giving back to their community, and the betterment of their country. Along with steps we must take to drive down the costs of school, it puts a higher education – and the chance at financial security and economic mobility – back in reach.”

Bennet’s “Service for School” bill builds upon the AmeriCorps program. Under Bennet’s bill, students who complete 2,000 hours of service would become eligible for $10,000 in funding for college, roughly the average in-state tuition for four-year schools in the country.

Each additional 2,000 hours would earn that student an additional $10,000, up to $40,000 maximum, or roughly four years of tuition. Students would have to complete their hours of service at an eligible organization certified by the Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS).

Types of service could include: teaching, tutoring and mentoring in high-need communities, building affordable housing, helping communities respond to disasters, and environmental stewardship. CNCS would determine if a given service opportunity meets the eligibility definition.

The Service for School bill is one of Bennet’s proposals to make college more affordable and accessible as Congress prepares to reauthorize the Higher Education Act in 2016. They include simplifying the FAFSA, creating incentives to help create higher quality and lower cost options through competency based education and accreditation reforms as well as measures to help families save and pay for school before, during, and after college.

This announcement comes on the heels of the recent bill-signing ceremony at the White House where the President signed into law a bill to rewrite No Child Left Behind. The bill, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the chief federal law addressing K-12 education, reforms many of the broken policies from No Child Left Behind, the previous version of the bill, while maintaining several key provisions that have proved successful.

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