WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited the University of Toledo today to hold a forum on college affordability and the future of Ohio. Brown outlined a new law that represents the largest federal expansion of student aid in our nation's history - legislation which will help more students afford college, keep jobs in the U.S., and promote economic competiveness -at no additional cost to U.S. taxpayers.
"If we're going to rebuild our economy, we need to produce talented college graduates and skilled workers and connect them with jobs. The first step was passing the largest expansion of federal student aid in our nation's history, which will help millions of Americans afford the cost of a college education. We do a great job at attracting college students to our state and providing them with a world-class education. But we need to keep them here. We need to ensure Ohio's graduates see a future for themselves and their families in our state. That's what today's forum is about."
Brown has been working to reverse the so-called "brain drain" in Ohio. In 2008, only 62.7 percent of Bachelor's Degree holders and 56.44 percent of Graduate degree holders still lived in Ohio three years after graduating from one of our state's institutions of higher education. Last year, the Thomas Fordham Institute commissioned a survey of Ohio college students on their post-graduation plans. Fifty eight percent responded that they planned to leave the state. Their perceptions were that Ohio fell short on offering job opportunities, career advancement, and social life. Brown believes that our state's future success depends on retaining talent and is trying to shift the dialogue from "Brain Drain" to "Brain Gain." He invited several student leaders to discuss this topic. Testimonies given today explored the livability of Ohio communities, jobs opportunities, and entrepreneurialism in Ohio.
Speakers at today's event include:
Trey Addison, of Dayton, is pursuing a double major in Sociology and in Law and Social Thought. He is Vice President of Campus Activities and Programming, and a member of the President's Council on Diversity. He is also a Member of the University of Toledo Board of Trustees, President of the Black Student Union, Chief Justice of the Student Judiciary Council, and a member of Mortar Board National Honor Society.
Krystal Weaver, of Elyria, is a senior in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Toledo and completing the PharmD program. She is currently the Student Body President, a Student Trustee, and a member of Blue Key Honor Society.
Andrew Wettle, of Toledo, is a senior accounting major with a minor in finance. He is a College of Business Student Senator and College of Business Caucus Chair.
Stephen Vasquez, graduated from Ohio University and returned to Toledo to work as an Admissions Counselor at Lourdes College. He now works as a Development Officer at United Way of Greater Toledo focusing on the General Industry, Construction, Utilities and Transportation divisions.
At today's event, Brown also celebrated the enactment of a historic expansion of student aid. President Obama signed the Health Care and Education Budget Reconciliation Act into law today, groundbreaking legislation that would enable the maximum Pell grant award to reach a historic high of $5,550 for the next academic year and grow with inflation to nearly $6000 in the years ahead - helping more students meet the rising cost of a college education. In the 2008-2009 academic year, more than 240,000 Ohio students relied on the Pell grant to pay for college. The value of those grants was nearly $672 million. At the University of Toledo, more than 5,400 students received more than $16.5 million in grants for 2008-2009. The bill would also help make federal student loans more manageable to repay by strengthening an Income-Based Repayment program that currently allows borrowers to cap their monthly federal student loan payments at just 15 percent of their discretionary income. These new provisions would lower this monthly cap to just 10 percent for new borrowers after 2014.