Third Way Statement on the College Affordability Act

Third Way Statement on the College Affordability Act

WASHINGTON — Third Way issued the following statement from Lanae Erickson, Senior Vice President for Social Policy & Politics:

“Higher education is one of the biggest investments someone can make in their lifetime, but a decade-old version of the Higher Education Act (HEA) is no longer delivering on its promise to provide students a return on their investment. Less than half of students who start college make it across the finish line, and those who start and don’t complete are three times as likely to default on their loans, making debt and no degree a reality for far too many Americans.”

“We believe the College Affordability Act, introduced by House Education & Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), represents a huge step forward toward delivering real value to students and taxpayers, as well as restoring the initial promise of the law to give all students the opportunity to access the economic benefits postsecondary education affords.”

“We are deeply encouraged to see a number of transparency, accountability, and consumer protection components included in the bill, such as lifting the ban on student-level data so that both consumers and policymakers feel empowered to make the best choices possible about where to invest in higher education; closing the forbearance loophole in the current Cohort Default Rate to make it harder for institutions to game the system; shifting the accreditation process to focus more on student outcomes; codifying the Gainful Employment rule that protects students from investing their time and money in programs that will leave them unable to pay back their debt; closing the GI Bill loophole that has made veterans a target for fraud by predatory colleges; and adding in a new accountability framework that takes into account students’ on-time repayment rates and differentiates between institutions that cannot invest more in their students due to a lack of resources and those that can but choose not to truly serve their students.”

“The College Affordability Act is a big step in the right direction, and we applaud House Democrats for introducing this critically important piece of legislation at a time when more Americans are looking to reap the economic benefits of a higher education than ever before. As Congress continues to move through the HEA reauthorization process, we hope policymakers will implement the guardrails outlined in this bill, and we challenge them to strengthen the accountability language even further to truly ensure our higher education system delivers for students and taxpayers.”


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