Hill introduces safety net for low-income college students

Former Congresswoman Katie Hill.

Rep. Katie Hill, D-Agua Dulce, has introduced new legislation that aims to aid low-income students whose ability to remain in school is threatened due to unexpected financial burdens. 

The Cost Assistance Made Possible for Undergraduate Students, or the CAMPUS Act, was introduced Thursday by Hill and Rep. Joe Morelle, New York, which seeks to ensure that issues such as “sudden illness, loss of employment, or transportation emergencies do not hold students back from pursuing or completing their degrees,” according to a news release from Hill’s office. 

“As a millennial, I have personally felt the burden of rising tuition fees, and I know how hard the student debt crisis has hit my generation,” Hill said Monday. “Before students even graduate, they feel the effects. I’ve spoken to students across the Santa Clarita Valley who are living paycheck to paycheck and afraid that a broken-down car would prevent them from getting to class and finishing their degree.”

The CAMPUS Act would provide emergency funds through a new, competitive grant demonstration program to help institutions participating in the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants. 

“They’re scared that an emergency medical bill would ruin their educational future. This can’t and shouldn’t be a reality for the future leaders of SCV,” said Hill. “The CAMPUS Act is designed to help students in situations exactly like these by providing emergency funds through a grant program to get students through their financial distress and back on track. A flat tire shouldn’t ruin your future and with the CAMPUS Act, it won’t.” 

Loss of employment, housing, food insecurity and medical conditions are among the challenges higher education students could face that would qualify them to receive emergency funding. Individual grants would be no more than $750, and throughout the duration of each student’s education, they would not receive amounts greater than $2,000 from one institution, according to Hill’s office. 

“Every student deserves the opportunity to pursue higher education and achieve their goals,” Morelle said in a prepared statement. “But for too many Americans, financial emergencies like a vehicle breaking down or losing a job can derail a lifetime of hard work, preventing young people from completing coursework or even causing them to drop out.”

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