WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced their plans to introduce legislation to help students earn college credits in high school in order to cut the cost of earning a college diploma.

The average four-year college graduate picking up diplomas this spring at commencement ceremonies across Connecticut owes $27,816 in student loans, $4,516 more than the national average. Students and graduates who have to borrow to pay rising tuition costs have found their indebtedness has an impact on their options after college. Furthermore, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department have both issued warnings that high levels of student loan debt could retard economic growth by driving down consumer demand.

As one way to address soaring college costs, this proposal would expand programs that allow high school juniors and seniors to take college-level classes and earn credit that counts toward both high school and college graduation. Sometimes called “dual enrollment,” the approach reduces the cost and time necessary to complete a college degree. It has been especially effective in increasing college enrollments among low-income students and those who are the first in their families to go to college.

“Skyrocketing tuition costs and crushing student loan debt prevent far too many students from obtaining their college degrees,” said Murphy. “Allowing students to earn college credits in high school will cut tuition costs and put the dream of attending college back in reach for millions more Americans.”

“We are living in a highly competitive global economy and if the United States is going to succeed we need to have the best educated workforce in the entire world,” Sanders said. “But the sad truth is we are now competing against other nations around the world that make it much easier for their young people to go to college.”

This legislation has been endorsed by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the American Association of Community Colleges, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the National Association of College Admissions Counselors.

To read a summary of this legislation, click here.