I grew up the eighth of nine children. My older brothers worked nearly all their lives finishing concrete. But for the opportunities I had in school, I very likely would have joined them. Finishing concrete is good work, but it’s a hard, dirty, bruising task. It was education that changed the course of my life.
From the tiny grade school alongside Duck Run to the University of Kentucky, education gave me a chance to live the American Dream.
Many young Ohioans today are filled with possibility. But they’re worried too. Will there be a job for them when they finish school? Will it pay enough to cover all their loans? Because today 70 percent of Ohio college students finish school $30,000 in debt.
And as the cost skyrockets, the income gap on campus rises. The unacceptable truth is that when it comes to a college education, a big wallet can be more important than a bright mind.
Whether an individual pursues an apprenticeship program, community college or a four-year degree, higher education is the pathway to expanded economic opportunity. As Governor, I froze college tuition to put higher education in reach of more young people. And in the U.S. Senate, I will fight to expand and protect vital programs like Pell Grants and the Perkins Loan Program that put college in reach for millions of Americans. I also believe we must allow students to refinance their loans to get a fair interest rate, helping them avoid mountains of crippling debt. Ultimately, I believe we should work to make higher education debt free, and this will be an important priority for me as Ohio’s next Senator.
But Senator Portman has some very different priorities: he opposed letting students refinance their loans at a lower rate in order to protect handouts for millionaires. He supported the largest cut to the Pell Grants in history, and in the Bush Administration he proposed ending the Perkins Loan Program that provides assistance to students who need the most support. It’s just more proof that Portman is prioritizing the interests of the Washington power brokers and the wealthy special interests he serves at our expense.