For the past month, many mailboxes have been filled with senior pictures and commencement invitations. Bakeries and grocery stores have been crowded with proud family and friends picking up cakes. In front lawns, signs and banners read: "Job well done," "Class of 2015," and "Congratulations!"
As I pass by the graduation parties and signs, I consider myself fortunate. So much of what I have been able to achieved in my life is due to my parents and the quality of the education I received. And like so many others, while attending college, I was able to help pay tuition by working part time jobs.
That's not so realistic anymore.
In the past 30 years, tuition costs have increased more than twice as much as the federal minimum wage. Today's students are being forced to rely on multiple student loans - which have become harder, not easier to come by and pay off. Today, many young adults are graduating with more fear than hope.
To sustain the American Dream for all students and for America to fully compete in the global marketplace, I believe we need to be spending more time and resources on providing our younger generations with an affordable, quality education that will not leave them with thousands of dollars in debt.
Higher education is not just an integral investment for the student; it is a key component of a successful, future economy for our country. Without well-educated, better-trained generations, America will not be on the same playing field with international competitors.
That's why I consistently vote in favor of increasing the maximum Pell Grant award. I cosponsored the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, which gives students the opportunity to refinance their student loan debt, the same way homeowners are able to refinance their mortgage. We also must increase the national minimum wage to help give young adults the opportunity to pay for college without taking out second and third loans.
Just as so many graduates are entering the work force, my colleagues in Congress and I need to roll up our sleeves and get to work on making sure the American Dream of attending college does not continue inching away from our children.