As the son of two public school teachers, the dad of two little girls, and a former community college trustee, Derek Kilmer believes all students should be able to access a quality education. That’s why he’s received the endorsement of the National Education Association and the Washington State Education Association.
Derek has sponsored legislation to improve federal support of career and technical education in our K-12 schools, to expand access to computer science education, and to provide financial assistance to folks who become teachers.
Derek believes that people should be able to pursue higher education opportunities without ending up in debt. That’s why he sponsored legislation to expand grant-based aid and to ensure Pell Grants keep up with tuition inflation. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, he has fought to strengthen funding for the Pell Grant program.
In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Derek championed provisions in the HEROES Act to provide funding to prevent cuts to K-12 and higher education.
Because student debt and other financial challenges aren’t just related to tuition, Derek is a sponsor of the Basic Assistance for Students in College Act to ensure that every student has access to basic needs such as affordable food, housing, temporary, child care, and other important resources.
He has sponsored legislation to strengthen work study options – both to help students avoid taking on debt and to help them develop relevant skills for a career.
Derek has supported proposals to create more flexible student loan repayment plans, including the Student Loan Refinancing Act which would allow students to refinance their loans to bring their interest rates in line with the current rate so they can reduce their monthly payments and pay off their loans faster. Beyond that, he has sponsored legislation allowing student loans to be discharged in a bankruptcy.
For his work to improve financial aid opportunities for college students and for his efforts to promote life-long learning, Derek has received honorary degrees from Tacoma Community College and from the University of Puget Sound.