U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes has been cited in a new Roll Call study as being among the members of Congress for carrying the highest level of student loan debt.
Hayes, who gained national recognition in 2016 when President Barack Obama named her as Teacher of the Year, was elected in November to represent Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District. She serves on the House Education and Labor Committee. The freshman Democrat was one of two representatives listed by Roll Call as carrying more than $115,000 in student loan debt. Hayes’ education stretched from 2002 to 2012, and she holds an associate degree, bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree.
“I wanted to be a teacher so badly that I accepted the debt I was incurring even though I knew my salary as a teacher would not yield an equal return on my investment,” Hayes said in a statement. “I’m sure I share this distinction with many other members, and hopefully we can work together to ensure that the skyrocketing cost of higher education does not continue to go unchecked.”
Roll Call also noted Connecticut’s U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is still carrying more than $30,000 in student loan debt tied to his University of Connecticut law school studies.
“I had a decent-sized student loan debt and I didn’t have them for undergraduate – I only had them for graduate school,” Murphy said. “I guess I have a little bit more of a window into how enormous your debt can be if you have to pay for four years of expensive undergrad and possibly graduate school as well.”
Roll Call culled its data from the latest available financial disclosure reports to the House of Representatives’ Office of the Clerk and the Senate’s Office of Public Records.