As a longtime UC Irvine law professor, Congresswoman Porter has seen up close and personal how students shape the future of Orange County.
In both Washington and Orange County, Congresswoman Porter has been a consistent advocate for students. In her first month in office, she met with students from Western State College of Law who were being defrauded by the school’s parent company, Dream Center. She’s held multiple town hall events at UC Irvine and Concordia University Irvine to hear directly from students. Congresswoman Porter also meets regularly with her Youth Advisory Board, a group of high school and college students from across her district, to discuss a wide variety of policy issues.
As the mother of three children in Orange County public schools, Congresswoman Porter understands that students are facing unique challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In February 2021, she teamed up with Senator Michael Bennet and urged the Department of Education to propose a realistic, proactive plan to make up the losses caused by virtual learning. To help students stay afloat financially, Congresswoman Porter introduced the bipartisan COVID-19 Perkins Loan Relief Act to extend student loan forbearance for Perkins loans holders.
Congresswoman Porter has also been a strong advocate for safer learning environments. At the beginning of the pandemic, she joined then-Senator Kamala Harris in urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue guidance to schools on the necessary steps to safely return to in-person education. She is also a proud cosponsor of the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2021, which would create a $130 billion grant and bond program for school repairs and send emergency funds to schools for necessary COVID-19 safety upgrades.
Congresswoman Porter believes that every child has the right to an education that meets their unique needs and abilities. That’s why she has supported legislation such as the Keep Our PACT Act and the Funding Early Childhood is the Right Idea Act. These bills would provide resources to help students with disabilities receive education that meets their needs, and would direct federal resources to schools that serve a high concentration of low-income families.
With an ongoing mental health crisis facing young people, Congresswoman Porter believes schools must promote the mental health of students. She delivered remarks on the House floor to highlight how Orange County schools have partnered with mental health care providers to promote students’ mental well-being. To protect students struggling with mental health challenges, Congresswoman Porter introduced the Student Mental Health Rights Act. Under federal law, colleges and universities cannot enact policies that discriminate against students because of their mental health needs. Congresswoman Porter’s legislation will help colleges and universities comply with federal guidelines on mental health policies, resulting in better campus practices to support students.
To help tackle long-term problems families face in higher education, Congresswoman Porter co-founded the College Affordability Caucus. The caucus focuses on identifying policies to tackle the student debt crisis and bring down the sticker price of higher education. To address the student debt crisis, Congresswoman Porter introduced the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Student Loan Integrity & Transparency Act. This bill would require the Department of Education and loan servicers to share information and cooperate with the CFPB’s Student Loan Ombudsman, the number one federal official tasked with advocating for students who are struggling to repay their loans.
Drawing from conversations with students, Congresswoman Porter introduced the Student Protection Act to crack down on predatory for-profit universities. She also led a letter urging the Department of Education to partner with states to crack down on predatory, for-profit universities. Congresswoman Porter introduced the Accountability in Student Loan Data Act, which would hold universities accountable for accurately reporting the number of graduates who are unable to repay student loans. In December 2020, Congresswoman Porter called on the Federal Trade Commission to improve its oversight of education referral websites that deceive families by only matching students to for-profit colleges that pay to advertise on their site.