Trump administration has been planning to limit student loans, along with revamping the accreditation mechanisms for universities and colleges in the US. However, Congress, under the charge of Sen. Lamar Alexander were planning to revamp and renew the Higher Education Act, for the very first time since 2008. One of the biggest priorities of the White House now was to limit the student debts. The Trump administration were targeting two types of loans: the Parent PLUS and Grad PLUS programs, under which both the parents and grad students borrowed funds from the government. The administration has been planning to put an end to Public Service Loan Forgiveness program as well, which focuses on forgiving the loans of people who were employed in public services, such as police, teaching etc. after ten years of fund payments.
The White House was now more involved with senior adviser Ivanka Trump, in-charge of the initiative. She said “We need to modernise our higher education system to make it more affordable, flexible and outcomes-oriented, so all Americans, young and old, can learn the skills they need to secure and retain good-paying jobs.”
Higher Education Act- A Bone of Contention Between Democrats and Republicans
The Higher Education Act was introduced to increase federal funding to colleges and universities in America. The law initially was re-authorised, every four to six years, however no changes had been introduced in the law since 2013.
One of the most prominent Republican involved in deliberations related to the Higher Education Act was Sen. Lamar Alexander who would be retiring in 2020 and hence re-authorisation of the act would end his tenure on a higher note. Alexander was in negotiation with Murray to draft a bipartisan bill, along with House Democrats on matters related with education and labour committee.
The biggest bone of contention between the Democrats and Republicans during the re-authorisation of the act would be the amount of money to be paid by the federal government to the need-based student aid programs such as Pell Grants. Murray had suggested the government to increase federal spending on student loans, providing more leverages to them. However, the Republicans were reluctant towards initiating such increments.
“I share the administration’s goals to make a college education worth it and to make it simpler to apply for federal student aid and pay back student loans,” Alexander added.
Murray, however, had much harsher words for the Trump administration and criticised them for their feeble efforts directed towards uplifting students. “This proposal would end up hurting students by reducing the amount of federal aid for students and taking billions out of the pockets of borrowers,” Murray said.