Congressman John Delaney Meets With Frostburg State Students and Local Citizens

On October 4, 2015, Congressman John Delaney, who represents Maryland’s 6th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives, hosted an “Office Hours” event at Frostburg State University.

This event took place in the Lane University Center and allowed both Frostburg State students and local residents the opportunity to meet Delaney one-on-one, ask questions, or get help with problems in connection to federal agencies. Over forty students and constituents took part in these one-on-one meetings, with social security, veterans’ benefits, education and infrastructure being the most common topics discussed.

Maryland’s sixth congressional district stretches from parts of Montgomery County in the east to Garrett County in the west. The “Office Hours” event at Frostburg was one of many held by the congressman throughout the year in different parts of Western Maryland. The Bottom Line sat down with Congressman Delaney and got his thoughts on a number of issues concerning education policy, Frostburg State University, and his college experience.

When asked about what is being done at the federal government level to combat the issues of college affordability and historic levels of student loan debt, Delaney focused on possible solutions government is exploring. He first noted President Barack Obama’s pursuit of increased transparency regarding student loan and graduation rate data. Delaney’s support of this program revolved around the notion that “What we want are informed consumers. When young Americans are making decisions about their education and they’re incurring student debt to do it, they ought to have some information about how the school does… so then they know they’re getting a good value for their investment.” He also focused on his work in Congress to decrease the interest rates on student loans and increase access to federal grants.

The Bottom Line also asked Congressman Delaney for his thoughts on greater accountability in higher education and how to incentivize college and university performance.  Delaney pointed out that if colleges aren’t doing their part to retain and graduate students, then more and more young Americans are incurring student debt without a clear means of earning higher wages. In order to remedy this concern he posed, “We should get to a point where if colleges perform so poorly, they shouldn’t have access to federally-funded student loans.” He strongly advocated for holding institutions that fail to focus on individual student success accountable.

Calling Frostburg an “important community” in his district, Congressman Delaney praised Frostburg State University’s impact on the surrounding region. He noted the nationwide correlation between economic success in smaller urban areas and the presence of academic institutions. He stated, in regards to the relationship between the university and the surrounding area, “I’d like to see Frostburg continue to expand and grow. I think that would have a pretty big impact. It would not only create jobs in the process of doing that, but create more of an academic community here.”

In May, Delaney, along with United States Senators from Maryland Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, announced Frostburg would receive a $100,000 federal grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to develop a new geochemistry lab. Congressman Delaney reiterated his support for this grant and the federal government’s role in investing in higher education projects that have similar long-term returns.

Congressman Delaney reflected on his time as a college student and what suggestions he would give to students today. He focused his advice on practical career planning, concluding, “If you close your eyes and really think deeply and envision the world in twenty, thirty, forty years, I think we generally have a sense as to how it’ll unfold… we need to make sure the skills you’re acquiring are consistent with that world. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue interests that stimulate you intellectually, but you have to balance that. I encourage kids to think a little bit about the long term.”

Delaney is a graduate of Columbia University and Georgetown University Law Center. By the time he was forty years of age, he had already founded two businesses listed on the New York Stock Exchange. As a congressman, he has represented Maryland’s 6th Congressional District in the House of Representatives since January 3, 2013, and serves on the House Committee on Financial Services and the Joint Economic Committee.

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