Expanding Educational Opportunity

Chris Van Hollen has always understood that there’s nothing more essential for our future success — as individuals, as families, and as a nation — than investing in a quality education for every child. For Chris, that’s the foundation of ensuring more and better economic opportunities, and it’s why he fights to expand educational opportunities from pre-K through affordable college and job training. As Maryland’s next U.S. Senator, that commitment to education will be unwavering.


In order to close the achievement gap and give every child the opportunity to succeed, Chris included the President’s plan for universal pre-K in his budget and continues to fight for increased investment in Head Start to expand access for more Maryland children.


Chris introduced legislation that requires the federal government to make good on its commitment to fully fund the cornerstone federal education programs, which will help expand opportunity for students, reduce class sizes, and provide more resources to those who need it most. The bill would also guarantee funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, finally fulfilling a promise Congress made in 1975 to help support education for students with disabilities. This legislation builds on Chris’s success in Maryland, where he led the 2002 effort to break a legislative stalemate in Annapolis and finally pass the Thornton Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act to increase education resources across the state and distribute them more fairly.

As our next Senator, he will continue to support well-rounded education, including afterschool and career-training programs and work to increase investments and support for schools in every corner of the state because he knows that for our state to succeed, every student must have a chance to succeed.


Every child should have the opportunity to go to college, but it is slipping out of reach for too many Maryland families. Chris is committed to making higher education more affordable — with more Pell grants, flexible options to help students reduce time to graduate, and increased resources to states to help lower tuition. He also believes we need to fight the abuses of some for-profit colleges that are increasing student debt without providing a strong education. Chris is fighting to allow graduates to refinance their loans to lower rates and is pushing to increase income-based repayment options so that graduates can manage their monthly bills. Chris also supported passage of the DREAM Act in the House in 2010 and the DREAM Act referendum in Maryland to provide opportunities for young immigrants.

Chris can win these fights, because he has won them in the past. He successfully took on Wall Street lenders to close a loophole that was taking billions from the student loan program, and fought to finally take the middle man out of the student loan business altogether with the shift to direct lending in 2009.

Chris is a leading supporter of President Obama’s free community college plan, with additional resources to help low-income students afford two-years of tuition at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He has also worked directly with community colleges in Maryland to open up new opportunities. When Montgomery College needed funding for an innovative biotechnology education program that included a partnership with a local hospital, they came to Chris and he helped secure the resources.  He also helped obtain a grant for community colleges across Maryland to train workers in the growing cybersecurity industry.


Chris knows that we must invest in skills training and alternative pathways to employment. That is why his economic plan supports apprenticeship programs and he is a cosponsor of the Workforce Development Tax Credit Act, which would provide tax incentives to companies that provide apprenticeship opportunities and hire new employees after successful completion of apprenticeship programs.

Chris has received a number of honors for his leadership on education over the years, including:

  • Outstanding New Member Award – Committee For Education Funding
  • William H. Natcher Award – Committee For Education Funding
  • Excellence in Educational Advocacy Award – Maryland Executive Council for Educational Opportunities
  • Outstanding Public Service Award – Council for Exceptional Children
  • Legislative Sponsor Award – Maryland Children’s Action Network
  • Extraordinary Leadership Award – Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
  • Outstanding Public Service Award – Reginald S. Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children
  • Spirit Award for Humanitarian Achievement – National Center for Children and Families Award
  • Champion for Children – First Focus Campaign for Children
  • Congressional Champion for Real and Lasting Change – Save the Children
  • Champion for Children Award – Foster Care Review Board
  • Geographic Legislator of the Year Award – National Geographic Education Society
  • Public Citizen of the Year Award – Maryland Chapter of National Association of Social Workers

Award of Honor – Center for Adoption Support and Education