Amid daunting fi nancial times and job market instability, Florida college students
put down their books and picked up their phones Tuesday evening seeking answers from U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek.
The 1984 Florida A&M graduate and congressman representing the 17th district of Florida held a statewide conference call discussing the future of student loan policies, job creation for upcoming graduates and other issues facing young people.
“Here in Washington, we have invested in state universities in order to help students in their continued education experience so that they don’t find themselves carrying student loans and high interest rates into their later years,” Meek said. “As students, you often leave with more debt than what you’re bringing in.”
Along with battling potential financial burdens, one of the key issues that Meek is fighting for is permanent change to the Pell grants designed to ease students stress and
“Having to work in order to pay tuition taught me valuable lessons in perseverance and time management,” Meek said.
“However, no student should be forced to choose between an extra shift and taking a
full course load just to make ends meet. I am proud to have supported historic expansions
to the Pell grant program to limit these unfair decisions.”
Recent budget cuts and tuition hikes caused many students to raise concerns about their future. Meek said that he is a strong supporter of President Obama’s funding of higher education.
“Under Obama’s administration there have been major increases in funding for education. He passed nearly $2 billion in grants for community college and other institutions of higher education,” Meek said.
After students receive their degree and begin to enter the workforce many become
victims of today’s weak job market. Meek addressed the importance of job creation and said that he is working on several project, to help create progress in this area.
“I voted for the Hire Act which appropriates $3.5 billion and creates 250,000 jobs
a year. I also voted for a bill called Jobs for Main Street, which creates $75 billion in job investment,” Meek said. “I’ve been a strong voice for job creation throughout my term.”
Some students are looking to address this problem in alternative ways by fi nding
employment in the environmental protection field.
A representative from the University of North Florida asked about the importance
of green jobs in the economy and what Meek was doing to facilitate their progress.
“We facilitate an environment that will promote green jobs, Meek said. “By doing this, you make yourself independent and employ more people in your country.”
Meek said he continues to focus his efforts in making education more affordable for anyone.
“In Congress, I continue to focus on making the lives of Florida’s students simpler,
making a college degree a reality for all those who work for it.”
Meek recently became the fi rst candidate in Florida history to get on a statewide ballot by petition. His race has been overshadowed in part by the close race between Governor Charlie Crist and State House Speaker Marco Rubio who are battling for the GOP nomination.