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House GOP Higher Ed Bill Out of Step with the Needs of Students & Borrowers


December 1, 2017

Contact: Allie Aguilera,, 202.734.6529

House GOP Higher Ed Bill Out of Step with the Needs of Students & Borrowers

[Washington]- Today, House Republicans unveiled their proposal to reform America’s higher education system. Despite record levels of student debt, increasing attainment gaps along racial and socioeconomic lines, and a pressing need for more accountability and transparency, the GOP proposal is not promising for students and loan borrowers. Initial impressions of the bill based on the recently released text and an earlier article from the Wall Street Journal indicate that the proposal, taken as a whole, makes a struggling system worse.

The proposal does not improve access and affordability for students: it fails to increase the maximum Pell Grant award for low-income students, fails to increase investment in on-campus childcare when the student parent population is growing, eliminates campus-based grant aid for the lowest-income students in the country, and eliminates subsidized loans for undergraduates. It also would make loan repayment harder by worsening the terms of income-based repayment by increasing monthly payments and eliminating student loan forgiveness. Furthermore, it repeals several laws or rules that protect students and taxpayers from predatory institutions including eliminating the Gainful Employment rule, the 90-10 rule, and the Borrower Defense rule. Additionally, it omits the bipartisan, bicameral College Transparency Act that would provide students and families with more data, allowing for a complete picture of student populations and job outcomes at different schools and programs.

Reid Setzer, Young Invincibles’ Government Affairs Director, released the following statement:

“The House Republican plan is deeply out of step with the needs of students, who are taking on unprecedented student debt in order to get a degree that will prepare them for the jobs of the 21st century. Students have waited nearly a decade for meaningful reform to the Higher Education Act, during which the cost of college has continued to skyrocket, burying students under a collective $1.4 trillion in debt. This plan simply is not the systemic reform students and families are in dire need of.

The PROSPER Act puts forward several proposals that will make it harder, not easier, for students to access affordable higher education. First, it does nothing to meaningfully address the cost of college, like increasing the value of the Pell Grant or incentivizing states to invest more in their public higher education systems. On top of that, it severely limits debt relief for student loan borrowers.

It’s not just that the plan makes it harder for students to pay for school, it also strips protections to keep them from being ripped off. The bill would be a windfall for the for-profit college industry, which has a history of misleading students. It’s wrong for students who are taken advantage of to be left holding the bag while predatory colleges subsist on public dollars. The plan raises serious questions about who Congress works for: poor-performing, deceptive institutions or students and families struggling to pay for school.

The few changes this bill makes to support students, like reforming the Federal Work Study program, simplifying the FAFSA, and a few limited provisions around improving student-level information, fall woefully short of the structural changes and greater investment students and families have been waiting for from their representatives for far too long.”