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Larson, Lewis: "Serve Your Country, Get Relief from Student Debt"

July 14, 2016
Press Release
Over 120 Original Cosponsors Introduce New National Service Plan

Washington – Today, Reps. John B. Larson (CT-01) and John Lewis (GA-05) announced a renewed commitment to our country’s public service needs. America’s Call to Improve Opportunities Now (ACTION) for National Service Act would enhance access to national and community service opportunities, create a more engaged citizenry, and address national priorities in education, infrastructure, healthcare, disaster relief, and poverty.  The legislation builds on the work of President John Kennedy, President Bill Clinton, and Senator Ted Kennedy. 

“At a time of unprecedented challenges for our country, we must again invest in the American people,” said Larson. “It is time for a renewal of the volunteer spirit that has shaped America for generations. Currently, less than 1% of the nation serves in our military, AmeriCorps, and the Peace Corps. At the same time, young Americans are struggling with the crippling burden of their student loans. That’s why John Lewis and I—along with over 120 of our colleagues—devised a simple solution: serve your country, get relief from college debt. When you serve your country for a year of service, our plan would provide two years of in-state college tuition; for two years of service, it would provide four years of in-state college tuition. Service makes us all stronger, and it is past time we return to the spirit of volunteerism that helped create our great nation.”

“This bill is a win-win for our country and for so many students whose professional lives begin saddled by debilitating debt,” said Lewis.  “The most highly trained Americans – physicians, scientists, and professors—can leave school hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.  They cannot follow their hearts or their conscience.  They are forced to avoid areas of society that need their services the most so they can repay their student loans.   Their absence on the frontlines of public service is a great loss to our society.  This bill allows professionals to serve our country while freeing themselves from the subjugation of overwhelming debt.  It transforms  hardship and limitation into the reward of volunteer service, by helping to enrich and sustain our society.”

In order to meet and exceed our country’s national service goals, the ACTION for National Service Act would:

  1. Significantly reduce student loan debt by compensating young people who volunteer for a full term of service with an educational benefit that is double the average in-state college tuition where their college is located. Two full terms would equal four years’ worth of in-state tuition.
  2. Make that education benefit free from federal taxation.
  3. Advance national and community service as a civic and national priority through the creation of a new federal, Cabinet-level agency.
  4. Give all those who wish to serve the opportunity to do so by supporting at least one million federal service positions nationwide.


The ACTION for National Service Act currently has 125 cosponsors. For more information, click here.