WASHINGTON (ABC4) – For months, student loan debt has been a hot topic as stimulus packages pass through the legislation. Now, one of Utah’s senators is hoping to tackle the topic.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney, along with Senator Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz), has introduced the Earn to Learn Act, legislation to reduce student loan debt and make college more affordable for students.

The bill establishes a college matched-savings program that helps qualifying, low-income students – including adult learners – pay for tuition, books, fees, and other education-related expenses.

“We must do better to ensure American students have the skills and training necessary to pursue good-paying jobs that keep up with our changing economy,” Senator Romney says. “Our legislation will help students pursue their education by equipping them with the financial resources and knowledge they need to attend college, career, and technical schools without the burden of being saddled with debt when they graduate.” 

The legislation establishes educational savings accounts to allow students to save for higher education.

According to the senators, for every $1 a student contributes, the amount is matched by an additional $8 from the participating state or non-profit.

The money then goes to the student’s chosen educational institution once the student enrolls.

States and non-profits that participate would be awarded grants to provide the tuition assistance, as well as financial literacy training.

Senators Romney and Sinema introduced the Earn to Learn Act last year as well. It is based off of Arizona’s Earn to Learn program, which has been helping underserved and underrepresented students access and complete a college degree for nearly a decade.

Earn to Learn scholars, who must qualify for Pell Grant aid, have a first-year retention rate that approaches 90%, and the majority graduate with little or no student loan debt, according to lawmakers.