Third Way Statement on House GOP Higher Education Act

December 01, 2017

WASHINGTON—Third Way Vice President for Social Policy & Politics Lanae Erickson Hatalsky issued the following statement in response to the release of a draft Higher Education Act by the House Education & Workforce GOP:

“There’s no question big changes are needed to produce a quality higher education system that’s ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century economy. Today‘s release of a new House GOP draft of the Higher Education Act represents a first step in recognizing that the status quo is failing to equip all students with the credentials and skills they need to find good-paying jobs and sustain a middle class lifestyle. Unfortunately, it fails to include the major reforms we need to create a system that will produce better outcomes for the more than 21 million students enrolling in postsecondary education each year.”

“We agree that programs like federal work study need revamping so that aid goes to institutions where the financial need is greatest. And we are encouraged to see that this bill highlights bipartisan agreement around the need for better data and increased transparency—which is critical to empowering students and their families to choose schools that will offer them the best results for their investment.”

“That said, this bill merely skims the surface when it comes to addressing the quality and completion crisis and does little to ensure students are getting value from today’s higher education system.”

“Our current quality assurance system has gaping holes. It is not enough to get students to college—we must also make sure institutions are equipping them to graduate, get good jobs, and repay their loans. Accreditation is supposed to serve as a seal of approval that a school offers a quality education, yet institutions that leave a majority of their students degreeless, underemployed, and with unmanageable debt continue to become and remain accredited today. This bill does nothing to set a federal bottom line to prohibit institutions with abysmal outcomes, including single digit graduation rates, from continuing to access the over $130 billion in taxpayer dollars in federal aid we send to schools each year.”

“We are also deeply concerned that too many provisions in this bill would roll back key consumer protections and open up loopholes making it even easier for bad actors to access federal funding, undermining our nation’s ability to protect students and taxpayers from high-cost, low-quality programs. Real reform would provide full transparency about how well institutions are serving students and would require every institution to take responsibility for their outcomes. And real reform would not open up new avenues for programs with abysmal student outcomes to access more taxpayer dollars and encourage more students to leverage their futures to attend those programs, even though we know they are likely to leave with nothing to show for it.”

“While we agree it is crucial that policymakers work towards a reauthorization of this bill that better meets the needs of our changing economy, the next Higher Education Act must also ensure that no student attends an institution that is likely to make them worse off than when they started.”

Press Contacts

Ladan Ahmadi

Senior Media Relations Manager

202-384-1718

lahmadi@thirdway.org

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