WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representatives David Schweikert (AZ-01), Susie Lee (NV-03), Greg Stanton (AZ-04), and Juan Ciscomani (AZ-06) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Earn to Learn Act, legislation to establish a matched-savings scholarship program for low-income students to save for their college education while providing financial training skills to help prepare them to succeed in today’s evolving workforce.
Modeled after the successful Earn to Learn program in Arizona, the bill is designed to help qualifying students pay for tuition, books, fees, and other education-related expenses. If enacted, the legislation will create an estimated 250,000 college scholarships in the first five years.
Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate today by Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) and Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT).
“I’m pleased to reintroduce the bipartisan Earn to Learn Act to provide Arizona students with the ability to save for their college education, develop sound financial literacy, and put them on track to not only graduate, but secure a job in their chosen field,” said Rep. Schweikert. “Over the last decade, Arizona has proven to be a national leader in promoting programs that provide critical resources to students who need them most. Taking Earn to Learn nationwide helps expand access to higher education, address our country’s labor shortage, and ultimately grow the economy by making society more productive.”
“Education is the key to opportunity. As a lifelong education advocate, I’ve seen that firsthand and I know how unbalanced the scales can be tipped,” said Rep. Lee. “Like a lot of folks, I was only able to pay for school with the help of scholarships, loans, and a number of part-time jobs. Unfortunately, the cost of higher education has skyrocketed in recent decades, and it’s beyond cost-prohibitive for far too many American families. That’s why I’m proud to join Congressman Schweikert in introducing the bipartisan, bicameral Earn to Learn Act. This commonsense bill will build a national matched savings program to help families save and ensure that every student has the opportunity to pursue the education that will help them reach their dreams.”
“Earn to Learn is an Arizona success story. Not only has this program helped thousands of low-income students get a quality education and graduate without going deep into debt—our economy has benefitted enormously from a more educated workforce,” said Rep. Stanton. “Our bipartisan Learn to Earn Act applies this proven program at the federal level, helping make college a reality for students of all backgrounds nationwide.”
“As a community college alumni and Pell Grant recipient, I know firsthand how life-changing access to higher education can be,” said Rep. Ciscomani. “Earn to Learn has a proven track record in Arizona, equipping students who need it most with the resources they need to succeed. With our country experiencing a worsening labor shortage, it’s time to take this matched-savings program nationally and help students finance their education, develop sound financial literacy, and gain valuable skills to improve the nation’s labor force. I’m pleased to join Representatives Lee, Schweikert, and Stanton in introducing the bipartisan Earn to Learn Act to reduce student loan debt and make college more affordable.”
What Arizona Leaders are saying:
“Earn to Learn has been uplifting underserved Arizona students to reach their dreams though a college education for over a decade,” said Kate Hoffman, Founder & CEO, Earn to Learn. “I commend the bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators on their efforts to generate economic opportunity across the country by expanding this innovative program to students across the country.”
“Employers are starved for trained workers, especially in the high-skill industries so critical to the U.S. economy,” said Danny Seiden, President & CEO, Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry supports programs like Earn to Learn that increase accessibility to higher education opportunities for all.”
“Workforce development is a primary concern for employers of all sizes,” said Todd Sanders, President & CEO, Greater Phoenix Chamber. “The Greater Phoenix Chamber is pleased to support the Earn to Learn Act because it promises to help employers find the trained workforce they need, while tearing down many of the financial barriers that prevent individuals from pursuing a college education or vocational training.”
“For over a decade, Earn to Learn has been making college dreams a reality for Arizona low-income students,” said Neil Giuliano, President & CEO, Greater Phoenix Leadership. “Greater Phoenix Leadership looks forward to seeing this proven model expanded nationwide via the Earn to Learn Act – helping students gain the education they need and employers find the qualified workforce our economy requires.”
“Expanding access to higher education is central to our mission at Arizona State University, and the national expansion of the Earn to Learn Act will improve access for students from all backgrounds across the country,” said Kent Hopkins, Vice President for Academic Enterprise Enrollment, Arizona State University. “This innovative program will pay dividends not only for students, but also for our broader economy.”
“The Earn to Learn program has provided Arizona students with a unique way to save for their college education, plan for their future and be able to attend world class universities like the University of Arizona,” said Kasey Urquídez, Vice President – Enrollment Management, University of Arizona. “Increased college access is vital, and we believe Earn to Learn can be a model to follow for the rest of the country.”
“The Arizona Community Foundation understands the importance of quality education for all,” said Anna María Chávez, President & CEO, Arizona Community Foundation. “As an early supporter of Earn to Learn in Arizona, we have been proud to support Earn to Learn’s successful model that has reduced student borrowing and improved graduation rates and college access. The Earn to Learn Act has the power to achieve these same benefits on a national scale.”
“Northern Arizona boasts a diverse, fast-growing economy that is driving demand for trained workers,” said T. Paul Thomas, CEO, Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance. “The Northern Arizona Leadership Alliance supports the Earn to Learn Act because it will both improve college affordability and help employers access the skilled workforce they need.”
“There’s not a lot of bipartisanship in Congress these days, but the Earn to Learn Act is a shining exception,” said Paul Hickman, President & CEO, Arizona Bankers Association. “The Arizona Bankers Association is proud to support this bipartisan effort to ensure students not only can access a college education, but graduate with little or no tuition debt and armed with the money-management skills they’ll need to be responsible consumers.”
“All Arizona students deserve to have opportunities to succeed,” said Jeff Guldner, CEO, Arizona Public Service (APS). “We are longtime supporters of Earn to Learn and its initiatives that help more Arizonans graduate from college. This isn’t a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have. With more college graduates, Arizona is better positioned to support the economic growth and stability we all want.”
“The Earn to Learn Act is a creative solution to make postsecondary education and job training affordable and accessible to underserved communities,” said Michael Guymon, President & CEO, Tucson Metro Chamber. “The Tucson Metro Chamber is a strong supporter of this Act and firmly believes that greater access to education is the cornerstone to any community’s success and increases employer’s ability to find and hire local talent.”
“Tuition and related costs are a significant barrier for many Hispanic students and help explain lagging college attainment rates among students of color across the country,” said Karla Bernal Morales, Chairwoman, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “The Earn to Learn Act will make a real difference for low and middle-income students of all backgrounds, helping them access the post-secondary education they need to advance.”
“The Earn to Learn program empowers underserved students to achieve a college education without going into debt,” said Marcy Euler, President & CEO, Pima Community College Foundation, Inc. “They will also take with them the financial literary skills learned in the program long after they graduated. Pima Community College is excited to partner with Earn to Learn to benefit our own students, and we support making this scholarship available to other colleges.”
“The Earn to Learn Act will help children from lower-income families overcome barriers that might keep them from attending college, just as this program has been doing in Arizona for a decade,” said Susan Gray, President & CEO, Tucson Electric Power and UniSource Energy Services. “Our companies strongly support Earn to Learn through Board participation, financial donations and volunteerism. We anticipate great success when this innovative program expands nationwide.”
- Under the Act, Earn to Learn scholars – who must be Pell-eligible – contribute to their own education by setting aside up to $500 per year. In return, they receive up to $4,000 per year in financial assistance – an 8-to-1 match – to attend a participating college, university or career and technical school of their choice.
- In Arizona, 80-85% of Earn to Learn scholars have a first-year retention rate that approaches 90%, and 80-85% graduate within six years. Nearly 2 out of 3 Earn to Learn participants are the first in their family to attend college.
- Reps. Schweikert and Lee previously introduced the Earn to Learn Act in the 117th Congress.
- The full bill text is available here.