Rubio Bill Will Fund Higher Ed ‘Encouragement’ for Students

Republican Senator Marco Rubio, considered by many as a sharply-rising star in the Republican party, has cosponsored legislation to help low-income students prepare for college expenses.

The American Dream Accounts Act would authorize grants for the development of web based accounts that monitor a student's readiness for higher education.

With parents' permission, teachers and mentors could use the accounts to monitor progress, add information and support students as they move from school to school and through college. Each one would include a college savings account for that student. No federal funding would go toward the savings account, but grant applicants who provide seed money for college savings would be first in line for a grant.

If passed into law the bill will authorize up to $3 million grants to develop the dream account, money which would be reallocated from existing programs.

The bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by Democrats Chris Coons and Jeff Bingaman. According to Coons, the program is designed to be portable to help address the challenges that low-income students face when changing schools. If a teacher is too stretched to get to know students who arrive partway into the school year they can feel neglected and develop discipline problems.

While making sure that students connect with the learning process and feel supported is a laudable idea, some may question the wisdom of sinking money into a project that effectively creates a Facebook knock-off while investing none of the money into the student's savings account. Social media is hardly an undeveloped area and a partnership with an existing product could be seen to have been a more financially sound proposition. During a time of austerity and widespread budget cuts, critics may say it makes even less sense.

A spokesman for Rubio said:

"All students, including those from low-income and nontraditional backgrounds, should be afforded the opportunity to attend a higher-education institution and should have access to meaningful counseling about which options best suit their individual needs,"

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