Statement on Sen. Alexander’s Feb. 4 Speech on Higher Education Act

February 4, 2019
Statement of James Kvaal

"Congress must tackle student debt by increasing scholarships and holding colleges accountable for unaffordable debts. While Senator Alexander laid out constructive ideas today, they do not pass that test.

"College is more important than ever, but the Pell Grant’s value is near all-time lows and state funding continues to fall. Too many low-income students and students of color are unable to earn a college degree. Moreover, the recent collapse of national for-profit college chains underscores the need for stronger protections against low-quality and even fraudulent colleges.

"We look forward to working with Senator Alexander on efforts to make it easier for students to submit and verify aid applications, streamline existing programs to allow students to repay loans with 10 percent of their incomes for no more than 20 years, and increase transparency on college costs. His proposal to use student loan repayment rates to identify low-performing colleges is worthy of discussion, but not at the cost of losing important existing protections.

"More work is needed to make college more affordable by investing in Pell grants, working with states to bring down college costs, and building on proven accountability rules that protect students against unaffordable debts."