Higher Education Committee Testimony — SB 250 (3/8/22)
Good Morning Senator Slap, Representative Elliot, Ranking Members Haines and Witkos, My name is John Board and I am a graduate of the CSCU System and longstanding advocate for higher education reform. I am in favor of, Senate Bill 250, this piece of legislation — particularly the service hours requirement — however, there are ways to improve it and make it more holistic.
Many of you have heard me talk about my three-part tuition contracting proposal over the years: Tuition Contracts, homebuyers credit, and student loan relief — this is a key way how to improve this legislation!
Under the first part of my plan: institutions would offer a student a contract to attend for nine semesters from the date of signing. If a student opts to extend the degree program, tuition would be adjusted to the “incoming freshman” rate.
The second part of my plan calls for qualifying graduates to receive a homebuyer’s credit to encourage them to reside in an opportunity zone. Individuals would have to stay in the zone for five years, if they decide to leave they forfeit any future participation in the Opportunity-Zone Homebuyers Credit Program. This incentivizes for graduates to stay in-state — help develop struggling communities — WHILE and provides a stable revenue stream for localities.
Lastly, upon passage, graduates would be eligible for a certain amount of CHESLA relief (via community service). The General Assembly shall direct the Treasurer to: (a) negotiate with the financial industry and regulators a new lower student loan rate and improved repayment process plan process, and (b) establish a commission on the issue of student loan reform and higher education grant formulas. Inclusion of this language ensures bringing home an actionable item to your constituents while ensuring that the discussion continues.
In summary, this legislation is a good start, could be dramatically improved with these three simple amendments. I’m prepared to answer any questions which the committee may have.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dv6qrPXEWPA