YOUNGSTOWN — Representatives Tim Ryan (OH-13), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Annie Kuster (D-NH) on Tuesday introduced legislation to provide $25,000 in either student loan debt relief or education benefits to essential workers and their family members.

The Opportunities for Heroes Act recognizes the contributions made by a diverse set of workers, including firefighters and first responders, health care providers, grocery store employees, transportation workers, and more, to help Americans through the COVID-19 health emergency.

“As we continue working to combat COVID-19, we must ensure that those working where the rubber meets the road are properly compensated for the grueling hours spent exposed to this deadly pathogen," Ryan said. "We are asking these individuals and their families to sacrifice so much for our nation.

Kuster said, “Essential workers risk their health and well-being every day to keep our society functioning during this unprecedented pandemic. Thanks to their courage, Granite Staters are able to buy food for their families, call for help during an emergency, and receive treatment if they are sick.

Fitzpatrick said, “Our essential workers put their lives at risk every day to make sure the rest of us are safe and healthy. They deserve all of the help we can provide them. By providing the option to help pay their student loans or continue their education, we can give them one less thing to worry about.”

According to Forbes, the median student loan debt in the United States is $17,000. This proposal would eliminate student loan debt for many essential workers.