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GOP Takes On Higher Education & Student Loan Programs

by Countable | 12.13.17

What’s the story?

Not since 2008 has Congress attempted to update the Higher Education Act – the federal law that governs how the federal government supports and regulates higher education institutions.

Now House GOP leaders, led by Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, aim to tackle updating the 1965 law. They have introduced the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, which outlines reforms to student loans, credit hour definitions and federal work study programs.

Supporters maintain the reforms will give rise to creativity and innovation in programs offering students post secondary degree programs. Critics fear the rollback of regulations focused on reining in the worst possible abuses by for-profit colleges will leave students vulnerable to exploitation.

Here are some of the highlights of the House bill. A Senate version is expected in 2018.

  • Permanent repeal of the "gainful employment" rule, which requires for-profit programs guarantee students can gain employment at which student loan payments do not exceed a specified percentage of their income post-graduation.

  • Permanent repeal of the "borrower defense" rule, which allows for forgiveness of student loan debt if it is found that a school misled students or otherwise defrauded them.

  • Permanent repeal of the "credit hour" rule, which set minimum requirements for awarding college credit hours.

  • Requiring full-time credit hours to qualify for federal Pell Grants, and incentivizing the same.

  • Increasing annual federal loan limits for dependent undergraduate borrowers.

  • Setting graduate student federal loan limit of $28,500 annually, regardless of overall tuition.

  • Setting parent federal loan limit of $12,500, regardless of overall tuition.

  • Phasing out graduate student eligibility for the Federal Work Study program in order to increase fund availability to undergraduates.

  • Creating an Apprenticeship Grants Program, to encourage business-to-institution partnerships. Offers Pell Grants to students enrolled in short-term, certificate or vocational programs.

  • Changing aid payments to biweekly payments, rather than lump sum payments per term.

  • Streamlining federal debt payment options to two- a ten-year fixed plan, or a 15 percent of income option.

  • Eliminating of loan forgiveness and forbearance programs.

What do you think?

Is the PROSPER Act heading in the right direction in terms of higher education and federal student loan reform? Why or why not? Will these changes affect you directly? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Ken Lund via Flickr / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(103)
  • clayrosenthal
    12/13/2017
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    I'm all for helping college students but this bill does not sound like it does that. Removing loan forgiveness? More and more students need that. Repealing borrower protection? If a school misleads you, you should not have had to pay them any more. We need reform but not this.

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  • Ticktock
    12/13/2017
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    Virginia Foxx, the key word is Fox (sly, sneaky and dead of the night). This is another effort by a Republican to roll back regulations that protect students and their futures. This “roll back” just opens the way for the corruption that existed during the 80s. This will not benefit anyone but those making money off of the students and will not result in any improvement in their education.

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  • Gerald
    12/13/2017
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    Seems like Trump University all over again. Come on. Any bill with a title like that is about something other than helping students. We can do much better. Stop the corporate tax cuts and instead spend the trillion dollars on making higher education affordable to everyone. This bill is paid for by for profit “schools” and the last thing is to help students.

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  • Linda
    12/13/2017
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    Education is an investment into the future of our nation. Unfortunately, graduating with a crippling debt is not the way. We need reform that provides K-College/Trade degree for every student. I look forward to seeing how our elected officials strive to achieve this. What I just read is not it.

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  • HardcoreModerate
    12/13/2017
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    ABSOLUTELY NOT. There are a few good ideas here, like raising loan limits, but they are far outweighed by the bad. Keep loan forbearance and forgiveness options (especially the ones that incentive needed professions), keep rules in place that protect students from con artists pretending to be educators.

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  • Claude
    12/13/2017
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    This is another Trump administration attack on education of middle class students. You must vote against this attack

    Like (13)
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  • Tondria
    12/13/2017
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    This is ridiculous. Now, graduate students can not avail themselves of work study? Can’t stop paying loans if for-profit college do not fulfill their due diligence... come on... this is bad... but I see what is going on... anyone who wants to move up in the world via Education will not be able to anymore. Thanks GOP...

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  • Laura
    12/13/2017
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    Loan forgiveness should absolutely not be taken away. Especially for teachers or people working for non-profits. They get paid so little and can’t write off small business expenses now with the new tax bill. They at least need to move forward with their futures with the chance of succeeding without crippling debt.

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  • Dave
    12/14/2017
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    We wouldn’t have this as a problem if it was fully funded like some countries. The big boom in the education in the US was because of the GI bill, which led to the 50’s and 60’s lead in technology. We invested in America’s future after war II.

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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    12/14/2017
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    More Republican non-sense, NOT common-sense. This removes protections, like all of Republican policies, and creates profit opportunities for Business. How does this improve or help students, parents or society???

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  • eireprof
    12/14/2017
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    Please save student loan forgiveness programs. We should not be punishing our best and brightest with crippling debt. I can't support the economy in any way because half of my paycheck goes toward paying back college loans.

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  • Stephen
    12/13/2017
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    No no no. No GOP reform on Higher Education and student Loans. This “reform” removes protections and safeguards for students and borrowers. Getting rid of loan forgiveness is ridiculous.

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  • Christina
    12/14/2017
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    Stop attacking students’ loans and tuition and colleges endowments to pay for your tax cuts for the rich. The Republican’s assault on the middle class is an affront go all Americans but especially the ones who actually believed Trump would stand for them. A tax cut for himself and taxing our students tuition!

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  • danakline
    12/13/2017
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    This bill sounds truly horrible for students and great for for-profit “colleges” like Trump University. I would really like to hear a republican’s explanation of how this bill helps students.

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  • Eileen
    12/14/2017
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    Here’s the real question: why is the government making money on the backs of students? Wait, I know, cuz they are poor and that is the target of this administration! You do realize that the skyrocketing cost of advanced education is out of most people’s reach. Then with a loan, that is being charged an exhorbitant interest rate, there are no jobs for anyone, cuz, we’ll, that whole trickle down thing STILL isn’t working and good paying jobs are not around! Most people cannot even hope of paying back a loan, much less one with mafia type rules! So, let’s pretend that you care about the people who tHOUGHT you were going to represent them and work across the aisle and get some moderation and real efforts going in this! We are SOOO far behind in education that it will take a real effort but I’m sure that if China can do it, we can! Or is Jerry Brown gonna have to do this also!?

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  • NoHedges
    12/13/2017
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    This just makes it easier on for profit colleges to screw over students. Didn't you all get enough of this when you screwed over your kids in the late 80s and throughout the 90s? Do you really need to screw over your grandchildren and great grandchildren too? Seriously, how many generations are you planning to rob!

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  • Heather
    12/14/2017
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    At a town hall meeting several months ago I asked Senator Merkley about these very issues—namely what he intended to do should a bill like this come up or a movement within the Department of Education lead to this same result—and he told me he would fight it tooth and nail. But I need all my congressional representatives on the same page about this. My parents fought and scraped their way out of generational poverty, and in the process never had the thought/couldn’t afford to save for me to go to college. But I did, making me the first job my family to go to a traditional four year school and the first to receive a Masters after that. When I first went to college, the banks were failing. My student loans changed hands three times before they were finally sold to Wells Fargo because of the insanity. My father on paper made enough that I didn’t qualify for need-based aid anymore, despite the fact that over 20% of his annual income at the time went to treating my mother’s multiple sclerosis and the same economic downturn threatened his job and forced him to choose unemployment or night shifts that still affect his health despite having been back on days for years now. When I graduated with my MS I became among the many who began working towards qualifying for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program because it allowed me to follow my dreams of service as a living option on the promise that if I could live simply for that lower pay, pay my loans on time, and spend a cumulative 10 years at nonprofits or government agencies, that my loans would be forgiven. It is literally the only way a person with student loans as high as they now average can afford to be paid less than near-equivalents in the private sector to do jobs that are critical for the public good. Without these programs I will likely be forced out of my field (public health) entirely for the sake of paying off my loans and keeping food in my mouth. These are not the choices I should have had to be making. Yet a 30 year old today makes the same average pay as a 30 year old in the 1980’s and the average student debt amount has gone from being practically nothing to a situation where hearing six figure debt numbers is considered normal. Frankly if one is to help us, regulate the banks. They pay nearly nothing in interest to the government for money that gets lent to us yet they charge us high rates—especially those who went to school during the crisis—and they alone profit. Limit their interest rates. Don’t limit my future.

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  • Jim
    12/14/2017
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    Most of these will make it harder on families and students. This is horrible

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  • Mark
    12/14/2017
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    So the IDIOT DeVos can charge more? What a knucklehead, Sec of Ed? She doesn’t realize for whom she works...not the banks, but us!!

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  • Nicholas
    12/13/2017
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    This attempt to reform higher education is not a good one. Repealing borrower defense and gainful employment empowers for-profit colleges (like Trump University perhaps?), certainly not students. Eliminating loan forgiveness and raising the debt limits for borrowers... it doesn’t sound like any effort to make higher education, especially graduate degrees, any more affordable or manageable. It all just seems like making higher education a risky investment enabling lenders and colleges that don’t have to be accountable if they mislead students. I can only think of two outcomes: perpetuating the debt-ridden way of life in the US, or making people forego higher education, which is required for many jobs (licensure and certification).

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