Higher Education Relfections | Dan Feehan Response

Students United sent out questions to all candidates with accessible contact information who are running in a district that encompasses a Minnesota State university. In a series of blogs we will publish all candidates who responded to our questions. For a complete list of respondents click here.

Below are Dan Freehan’s answers to the questions Students United sent out to candidates. Dan Feehan is currently running for Congress to represent Minnesota’s 1st District. Minnesota State University, Mankato, and Winona State University are within the Minnesota’s District One.

Students are graduating from Minnesota public higher education institutions with record debt. Should there be a plan at the federal level to make higher education affordable? If so, explain the plan. If not, explain your reasoning.

Feehan: As someone that is still in the process of paying back my own student loans, I’m uniquely aware of how burdensome these repayments (and the interest that comes along with them) are. In Congress, I will support legislation that caps student loan rates, expands opportunities for loan forgiveness, and I will work with all higher education to demand transparency when their prices rise. Our future economy requires all of us to be life-long learners, and it is the role of elected officials to ensure that every experience students have in education encourages this.

Should there be a federal plan to ensure college graduates are able to find good, stable jobs? If so, explain the plan. If not, explain your reasoning.

Feehan: The federal government absolutely has a role in ensuring that recent college graduates are able to find good stable jobs, especially because Minnesota’s economic strength is tied directly to the strength of our education systems. In order to best prepare college graduates to enter the workforce, however, the federal government must ensure that higher education is affordable in the first place. This would mean working to cap student loan rates, expanding Public Service Loan Forgiveness and demanding transparency when prices rise.

As a former teacher and the spouse of a public school educator, I know that there is no more important job than preparing our youth for the future. As a father, I want all southern Minnesota children to have access to the many pathways to success their life can take from birth to post-secondary education. In Congress, I will fight to maintain strong public education and create better alignment with opportunities in our workforce to help Southern Minnesota economically thrive. We should also encourage public-private partnerships that facilitate coordination between our business communities and our universities, colleges, and even high schools.

In Southern Minnesota in particular, our agriculture, healthcare, and manufacturing industries reach markets around the world. This connection to the global economy affords us the opportunity to drive economic output and world markets, but it also makes us vulnerable to the ever-changing advances in technology and workforce capacity. My vision is for us to not only remain competitive, but to lead. In order to do this, we must be focused on what tomorrow’s landscape looks like and develop an education and workforce system that prepares us for success.

Should the federal government have a role in making college more accessible? If so, explain its role. If not, explain your reasoning.

Feehan: Yes, our future economy will require a broad and diverse coalition of talent to meet the demands of our labor market. Unfortunately, the rising cost of a quality college education has priced too many students out of the opportunity. Elected officials must ensure that we invest in students from all backgrounds.

As a member of Congress I would fight for enhanced investment in the Pell grant and I would look to expand Public Service Loan Forgiveness options. In addition, Congress must return to properly funding K-12 programs that focus on english-language learning students and special education students. These investments will ensure a greater accessibility to higher education for all students. With that being said, we also must address the fundamental causes that create a system in which the price of college continues to rise. We cannot continue to provide short-term solutions for long-term problems. That is why, as a member of Congress, I would also work with all higher education to demand greater transparency when prices rise.

To learn more about Dan Feehan click here.