Education

Senator Smith believes that a strong public education system, from early childhood to higher education, is one of the most important investments we can make, because education has the power to change lives. A high-quality education empowers and creates opportunity, allowing people to reach their full potential, support their families with good-paying jobs, and become well informed and engaged citizens.

Education provides a strong foundation for our economy and our communities, and it starts with the littlest kids and learners. Senator Smith has worked in response to the childcare shortages in Minnesota, she’s a proud supporter of legislation to provide high-quality affordable childcare to all parents, to support childcare providers, and boost supply in Minnesota.

Sen. Smith believes that every young person has a right to a high-quality K-12 education. She’s introduced legislation to address teacher shortages, particularly in rural areas, hard to staff subject areas, and to help improve teacher workforce diversity. She’s heard again and again from teachers about the challenges their students are facing and so she has championed several measures to support student mental health needs and well-being. When it comes to higher education, Sen. Smith believes that college has become unaffordable for too many. She finds it troubling that the average debt for students graduating from a four-year college in Minnesota is $31,000. She believes we need to rethink this system because it’s not fair to students, and it’s getting so that it is even slowing down our economy.

But Senator Smith also understands that ‘higher education’ doesn’t always mean a 4-year degree. Sen. Smith strongly believes that we need to increase our investments in two-year community and technical colleges, and workforce education overall to ensure that students are well-prepared to meet workforce needs. This type of education will help students obtain the in-demand skills that will help them land good-paying jobs that employers are hiring for now, not in the distant future.

Sen. Smith is also committed to addressing the opportunity gaps that prevent too many students from reaching their full potential. She believes that means ensuring that every student, from LGBTQ youth, to those struggling with a challenging home life, mental health issues, or immigrant Minnesotans’ has the support they need to succeed.

Finally, Sen. Smith understands that outside the classroom our kids are facing many barriers and she strongly supports reforming and expanding the Child Tax Credit to invest in children and reduce child poverty in Minnesota and across the nation.

Latest Releases

Following Calls from Senator Smith, Biden Administration Expands Eligibility for Head Start Program

WASHINGTON – Following calls from U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced that it is expanding Head Start Program eligibility to help more families in Minnesota and across the country access affordable, high-quality early education services. “For over half a century, Head Start programs in Minnesota and across the country have provided vital early childhood care and education to children from low-income households,” said Senator Smith. “Complex red-tape and outdated requirements have created unnecessary barriers to access. I’m pleased the Biden administration acted so quickly in response to our request to simplify eligibility for this program. This new, simplified eligibility is a great move that will allow more families to benefit from high-quality, affordable early childhood care and education.” “The Department of Health and Human Services’ announcement that they will add SNAP to the categorical eligibility list for Early Head Start and Head Start will allow families much easier access to programs in the state of Minnesota and across the nation,” said Kraig Gratke, Executive Director of the Minnesota Head Start Association. “Programs that we know serve the highest risk population with services that stabilize families and get children ready for school and to be lifelong learners.  When I shared the announcement with programs there was an immediate response of gratitude for those that did the work to make this happen, excitement over streamlining the Head Start enrollment process for families, and one of promise for those families who are now eligible

U.S. Senator Tina Smith, Colleagues Urge Biden Administration to Extend Student Loan Payment Pause, and Ultimately Cancel Student Debt

Washington, D.C. – United States Tina Smith (D-Minn.) joined nearly 100 members of Congress in a letter to President Biden urging the administration to extend the pause on federally held student loan payments until at least the end of the year, and urged the administration to provide meaningful student debt cancellation. “Given the fast-approaching deadline for borrowers to resume payments, your administration must act as quickly as possible to extend the pause and make clear to the American public your intention to cancel a meaningful amount of student debt. We look forward to supporting your administration in getting it done,” wrote the lawmakers.  The payment pause has been a significant investment throughout the pandemic, providing essential relief to millions of families during the economic and public health crisis, and saving borrowers an average of $393 per month. Borrowers have greatly benefited from the ongoing payment pause, taking the opportunity to pay down other debt, relieve financial pressures from lost jobs or decreased earnings, and support their families’ needs. Restarting repayment will financially destabilize many borrowers, and will cause hardship for many who cannot afford repayment. Most borrowers are not financially prepared to shoulder another bill as they face rising costs for necessities like food and gas. Black students in particular borrow more to attend college, borrow more often while they are in school, and have a harder time paying their debt off than their white peers. They are more than three times as likely to go into default within four

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Leads Push To Ensure Historic Investment In Childcare, Universal Pre-K as Part of Build Back Better Budget

WASHINGTON, D.C. [10/25/21]— U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn) said today that after 18 months of a devastating pandemic, historic investments in childcare and universal pre-kindergarten education will be necessary to help working families – especially women – return to the workforce, a key element in getting businesses and the economy back on track.    In a letter Friday, Sen. Smith led a group of 15 key Senators in pressing President Biden and Congressional leaders to include $450 billion in the Build Back Better budget package now being negotiated for both childcare and universal pre-k. “Our economy will not work, nor

U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Chris Van Hollen Introduce Legislation to Relieve Families from Private Student Loans Upon Death of Student

WASHINGTON, D.C. [8/3/21]—U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced legislation to release cosigners of private student loan obligations in the event of a student borrower’s death. U.S. Representative Angie Craig (D- MN 2) authored this bill in the House, which passed as part of a comprehensive debt reform package on May 13.  Right now, federal law only releases cosigners from private student loans for late students if their loans were made after November 20, 2018. Families who cosigned on their lost loved one’s private student loan prior to this date are currently provided no protection or relief under federal law—and find themselves at the mercy and discretion of individual private student loan

U.S. Senators Tina Smith and Lindsey Graham Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Students Develop Workforce Readiness Skills

WASHINGTON, D.C. [5/19/21]—Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a bipartisan bill to help prepare young people for jobs and boost their economic potential. The Youth Workforce Readiness Act, also supported by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), would create partnerships between afterschool providers and businesses to help students develop essential workforce readiness skills—like critical thinking and decision making—and learn about different career paths. Right now, many young people in Minnesota, South Carolina and across America are concerned about whether they have the skills necessary to secure a job in the future. This lack of adequate workforce readiness also leads to negative economic effects for employers, who often

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Introduces Bipartisan Bills to Help Students, Families Make Financially Sound College Decisions

WASHINGTON, D.C. [04/29/2021]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) introduced three bipartisan bills to help students and their families better understand the cost of college to avoid sticker shock, find the best value, and learn about student loans. The Net Price Calculator Improvement Act improves net price calculators to help students understand higher education costs and financial aid figures before they apply. The Understanding the True Cost of College Act creates a universal financial aid award letter so students can easily compare financial aid packages between schools. The Know Before You Owe Federal Student Loan Act makes loan counseling an annual requirement before new loans are disbursed—rather than just for

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