U.S. Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, has reintroduced legislation aimed at restoring federal student loan support to graduate students, her office announced this week.
The Protecting Our Students by Terminating Graduate Rates that Add to Debt, or POST GRAD, Act “will once again make graduate students eligible to receive Federal Direct Subsidized Loans,” Chu’s office said in a written statement. “That eligibility was ended by the Budget Control Act of 2011.”
The bill is co-sponsored by a coalition of 20 fellow Democrats, including 10 from California. It has been introduced several times in the past without passage.
Chu said providing assistance to graduate students as they pursue higher education makes sense from multiple perspectives.
“Many of the most rewarding and critical jobs in the U.S. require advanced degrees,” Chu said.
“While we want our best and brightest students to succeed in fields such as healthcare, mental health, and school administration, the high cost of graduate school means that these fields are often just for those who can afford the high tuition or expensive loans. This is unacceptable. Smart and capable students from disadvantaged backgrounds deserve a shot to earn advanced degrees in jobs that we need filled without taking on a lifetime of debt,” according to Chu.
“This bill will ensure all graduate students, regardless of their or their family’s financial situation, can access Federal Direct Subsidized Loans,” she said.
Such loans do not accrue interest while students are still in school, resulting in thousands of dollars in savings, Chu said.
“Federal Direct Subsidized Loans are already being used by countless undergraduates, so it’s common sense that we extend this aid to our graduate students,” she said. “At a time when our country faces dire shortages of highly skilled workers, we should be doing everything we can to reduce barriers to higher education.”
The lengthy list of endorsers includes the American Psychological Association, according to Chu’s office.
“By reinstating subsidized federal student loans for graduate students, the POST GRAD Act would relieve a portion of the financial burden associated with financing a graduate degree, including in psychology,” according to the APA.
“The cost of graduate education often serves as a barrier for qualified individuals pursuing advanced degrees, including in the behavioral health care field, where shortages of skilled, culturally competent providers persist,” said APA CEO Arthur C. Evans.
“The loss of the in-school interest subsidy has increased these costs, which are disproportionately borne by traditionally underrepresented students. APA applauds Representative Chu for introducing this critical legislation, which would make graduate study more affordable and help ensure a more diverse workforce to meet growing needs,” Evans said.