Investing in Education | Congressman Ami Bera

Congressman Ami Bera

Representing the 7th District of California
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Investing in Education

Visiting with students at Carroll Elementary School to take part in Read Across America Day.

As a former educator and a father of a daughter who’s now going to college, investing in the next generation is very important to me. Ensuring our youth are ready for tomorrow’s jobs is one of the most critical things we can do to help everyone get ahead in our economy.

I was born and raised in California and benefited from California's excellent public schools, from kindergarten to medical school. I earned my B.S. and M.D. from the University of California, Irvine. With some help from my family, scholarships, and while working part-time and taking advantage of federally-funded student loans, I was able to graduate with less than $10,000 in debt. 

But today, far too many students aren't getting the education they need. Graduating college students are struggling with record levels of debt while they look for work. Many parents are also concerned whether their kids are learning the skills they need to keep up in our changing economy. We have to make sure the same opportunities I had are available to future generations.

Here’s what I'm doing to make investing in education a priority in Congress:


Strengthening Our Public Schools:

I've seen firsthand the great education our schools can provide for young people. We’re lucky to have many great public schools in Sacramento County that are doing a terrific job educating our children.

But there's still a lot of work to do. We have to teach our kids more than just how to take tests. Schools must help students build skills they need to be successful and well-rounded. Our schools need to provide an equal opportunity to all students so that, regardless of their background, every student has the ability to get ahead.

  • The Every Student Succeeds Act: I was proud to vote for the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act, which has been signed into law. This law replaced the punitive, one size-fits-all system of No Child Left Behind.

    Every Student Succeeds restores more control to state and local education leaders. States now have the ability to shape their own accountability systems to best fit their academic strengths and challenges. It also includes strong safeguards to ensure underserved and high-need students get the support they deserve.

    Click below to watch me reply to Barbara from Rancho Cordova about replacing No Child Left Behind:

  • Ensuring Young Children Get a Strong Foundation With Early Childhood Education: Making sure our children have a good education early is crucial for their success down the road. And thankfully, the Every Student Succeeds Act that I voted for includes significant investments in early childhood education. It also ensures national and local early education programs do a better job of working together to help children learn.

    I’m a strong supporter of Head Start, America’s most successful early childhood education program. Head Start makes sure all children, no matter their background or income level, are ready to go to school.
    Visiting with teachers and students at Bright Beginnings Early Learning Center in Rancho Cordova.
    Visiting with teachers and students at Bright Beginnings Early Learning Center in Rancho Cordova.
  • Making Sure High School Graduates Are Career Ready: Today, many students must take remedial courses after graduating high school. We should know if our high school graduates are college or career ready. That's why I introduced an amendment that will make sure we do a better job of tracking high school graduates to monitor career readiness and learn how to best help prepare students for 21st century jobs.

    Honoring Deanna Victor, Sacramento County Teacher of the Year, at Mariemont Elementary School.

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Making College More Affordable:

Meeting with U.C. Davis graduate students in my Washington, D.C. office.

Hard working young people should have a fair shot at the American dream. But today, the rising cost of college is making that dream harder and harder to achieve. It’s common for students to graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt - at more than a trillion dollars. This makes it harder for young people to join the ranks of the middle class, even if they find a good paying job.

It doesn’t have to be this way. With some help from my family, scholarships, and while working part-time and taking advantage of federally-funded student loans, I was able to graduate with less than $10,000 in debt. It was possible because my country made an investment in me. We have to get back to investing in the next generation and bring down the cost of college.

  • How I Can Help: My office is here to help students who are interested in their financial aid options. We can provide information on student financial aid offered by the federal government and may be able to help you break through any bureaucratic red tape that could be holding up your aid. Please feel free to call us at (916) 635-0505 or visit to learn more.
  • Keeping California’s Colleges Affordable: At a time when many families and students are struggling to get by, the last thing we should do is raise tuition at California’s public universities. That’s why I led the California congressional delegation in opposing a proposed tuition hike for the U.C. system. The proposal would have increased tuition five percent a year over the next five years - threatening the promise of affordable higher education for many students.

    I’m also proud to co-chair the bipartisan California Public Higher Education Caucus in Congress. Together, we advocate for the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) schools and their students.

    At the launch of the bipartisan California Public Higher Education Caucus, along with my Republican colleague Congressman Jeff Dunham.
  • Letting Students Refinance Their Loans: Families can refinance their mortgages and car loanst’s only fair to give people with high levels of student loan debt that same choice. That’s why I’m supporting the Federal Student Loan Refinancing Act. This bill would automatically lower interest rates on student loans to four percent, down from the current average of seven percent. It would provide relief to nearly 90 percent of borrowers, and allow students with lower interest rates to keep those lower rates.
  • Student Loan Certainty Act: Students should have security and peace of mind as they budget for college. That’s why I voted to pass the Student Loan Certainty Act, which is now law. This law caps interest rates on federal loans for college students and fixes these rates for the life of the loan.
  • Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act: We need to find creative ways to partner with businesses to help make college more affordable and our economy more competitive. That’s why I’m supporting the Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act. This bill would provide tax relief to businesses that help pay their workers’ student loans as an employment benefit.
  • Modernizing College Aid Programs: I’ve supported bipartisan legislation to cut government red tape and other barriers that can keep students from accessing the aid they need. For instance, I supported the Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act so a college aid applicant can use information from the previous year’s tax return to more quickly complete the often complicated Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). I also supported the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act to create a new online “college dashboard” so students can easily see how much a given college may cost, enrollment and graduate rates, and available financial aid options.

  • Supporting Working Students: I know many students have to work to help pay for college, just like I did. But some students are now penalized for doing the right thing – their higher income can make them ineligible for financial aid. That’s why I’m supporting the Working Student Act to help protect students from this unfair penalty.
  • Helping All Students Afford College: Anyone who’s willing to work hard and dedicate themselves to a better future shouldn’t be denied a college degree just because they can’t afford one. That’s why I’m a strong supporter of Pell Grants, which help students with modest incomes and don’t have to be repaid.
  • Flexible Pell Grant for 21st Century Students Act: I’m supporting this bipartisan legislation to ensure that students who qualify for Pell Grants can access funding throughout the year, instead of being available only during the Fall and Spring semesters as they are now. This will give students the freedom to complete their coursework more quickly and on a timeframe that works best for them.

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Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education:

Presenting a certificate of congressional recognition to San Juan High School, a great local example of a local school that prepares its students for today’s global economy.

Our global economy and information revolution has made science, technology, engineering, and math education more important than ever. Jobs in these fields continue to grow and are increasingly becoming a more integral part of our economy. As a doctor and a former Associate Dean of Admissions at University of California-Davis Medical School, I know this firsthand. We have to do all we can to make sure our young people are prepared to excel in these fields so they can succeed in the 21st century economy.

  • Supporting STEM in the Science, Space, and Technology Committee: As a member of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, supporting STEM education is one of my priorities.  Here’s one STEM focused hearing where I welcomed representatives from both Intel and Project Lead the Way, two organizations that are working locally to prepare our young people for tomorrow’s jobs:

  • Helping Local Universities Build the Next Generation Economy: The National Science Foundation provides research grants to both UC Davis and Sacramento State and helps our college students become the next generation of engineers, scientists, and inventors. I’m pushing to invest in the National Science Foundation so we can continue to lay a foundation for an innovative economy.
  • The STEM Education Act: We need to make sure that our businesses can easily fill STEM-related jobs with qualified American workers. That’s why I supported the bipartisan STEM Education Act, which is now law. This bill would require the National Science Foundation to improve STEM education by encouraging teacher fellowships and other programs that help advance STEM learning.

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More on Investing in Education

Dec 21, 2015 Ami's Updates

I sent an email update on Monday about some of the new bipartisan successes of 2015. Join my email updates now so you don't miss any in the future!

Nov 17, 2015 Press Release

Sacramento, CA – Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. announced a $100,000 grant awarded to Sacramento City Unified School District for its farm to school program.  

Jan 25, 2015 Page
Do you support the President’s new proposal for making community college tuition-free? Take my survey to share your thoughts.
Dec 17, 2014 Page

As you may know, the University of California regents recently voted to raise tuition for students as much as 28 percent over the next 5 years. I'm extremely disappointed by this vote that breaks the promise of an affordable education for many students.

Nov 21, 2014 Press Release

Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. released the following statement in response to the University of California (UC) tuition hike that Regents voted on earlier today:

Aug 27, 2014 In The News

A collective gasp filled the air of the Elliott Ranch Elementary School multipurpose room Wednesday morning as the countdown to a live downlink with the International Space Station began.

“It looks like they are flying over the United States of America right now,” announced Principal Brian MacNeill, at the 30-second mark. He pointed toward a screen showing a view of the Earth from the space station.

The 364 students assembled at the Elk Grove school squirmed, whispered and giggled in anticipation. They had been waiting for this for weeks.

May 2, 2014 In The News

U.S. Rep. Dr. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) told government students at two Elk Grove high schools that local leaders should set education standards.

“I feel very strongly that states and even local school districts are better at setting educational standards,” Bera said. “There should be some national standards, but that should be a foundation.”

He added, “I’m always going to be a strong proponent of local control of education.”

May 1, 2014 In The News

Two California congressmen, Democratic Rep. Ami Bera and Republican Rep. Jeff Denham, said Thursday that they have formed a bipartisan caucus to advocate for the state's public universities and students.

Bera and Denham announced the California Public Higher Education Caucus on Thursday, consisting of 31 members of the state's congressional delegation.

May 1, 2014 Press Release

Congressmen Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-7), and Jeff Denham (CA-10), announced earlier today the creation of the California Public Higher Education Caucus, a bipartisan group of Members of Congress who will advocate for the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) schools and their students and support improvements to the quality, affordability, and accessibility of California’s public higher education system.

Apr 25, 2014 Page

California State University, Sacramento

As an educator and a parent, I am proud that the Sacramento County region boasts a number of distinguished colleges and universities that are helping to build tomorrow’s high-skilled workforce.  Our higher education institutions are crucial for reinvigorating our local economy and strengthening the middle class.