If you saw this weekend’s Presidential Address, then you already know that the Obama administration launched College Scorecard, a website that compiles statistics about the costs and offerings of some 7,000 American colleges. The President is imploring high school students and parents to fill out the newly simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which allows prospective college students to draw from a pool of $150 billion in federal financial aid.
It’s a goal that some have wanted for years (see this Roundtable commentary).
The announcement brought a response from John Kline, the Chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee :
Streamlining the federal student aid process has long been a bipartisan priority. This change will help students and families make smarter, more timely decisions about paying for a college education. But make no mistake, this announcement comes at a cost to taxpayers, and it seems the administration has no responsible plan to pay for it. We need reforms to higher education that serve the best interests of both students and taxpayers, and the best way to achieve that goal is to reform the law. That continues to be our priority, and, as we have said repeatedly, it’s time the administration joined that effort.
So Chairman Kline is now concerned about costs … after voting for tax cuts amounting to $594.4 Billion this year that Chairman Kline takes “no responsible plan to pay for”.
Of course, this is also Chairman Kline who asked for a 7.7% budget INCREASE for the his Education and the Workforce Committee; and also voted AGAINST cutting his own office budget by 1%.
But Chairman Kline is correct that there has been a “bipartisan” push to get this done … as this has been in his “To Do” basket since H.R. 6506 : Understanding the True Cost of College Act of 2012, it does not seem to be a priority.
Chairman Kline’s press release refers to H.R.3177 – Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act … a bill that was assigned to his committee on July 23, but he has not held any hearings on it … and for that matter H.R.4982 – Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act was assigned to his committee on June 26, 2014 … and once again no action by the Chairman even those these are Republican proposals.
How can he say with a straight face that this is a priority when he has ignored legislation since 2012 … and then to blame it on “cost to the taxpayers” ? Laughable !
Of course, there is cost … but how much (Chairman Kline doesn’t say) … but if students are making the wrong choices, there is value in remedying that. Chairman Kline could have easily asked the CBO to determine the cost of H.R.3177 – Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act … of he could have asked the lead sponsor of the bill, wanna-be Senator Joe Heck (R-NV-03) how much this would cost ?
But WHY blame President Obama for helping families make better choices, when the core problem is that your leadership has failed ?
Yet, it must be questioned if Chairman Kline is not pleased to have this data which includes :
— graduation rates for low-income students;
— data on employment rates;
— percentage of first-generation students (typically defined as students whose parents don’t have a bachelor’s degree) by institutional type (with a breakout for public, non-profit and For-Profit … and Chairman Kline may not like to see how that is skewed.)
“A society’s values are reflected in where we put our time, our effort, our money. It is not sufficient to say we care about education, if we aren’t actually putting resources into education,” President Obama said yesterday. Facing a possible government shutdown, the President also criticized congressional Republicans for delaying the federal budget, which has to pass by September 30 to avoid a government shutdown.
One program on that Chairman Kline could end through inaction is the Federal Perkins Loan Program, which allows colleges to make loans of typically several thousand dollars to certain students.
The program is relatively small for the federal government. Last year, more than 500,000 students received Perkins Loans totaling more than $1 billion. That’s only a fraction of the roughly $150 billion in student loans and grants the federal government awards each year.
95 bipartisan Members signed a letter asking that Chairman Kline work to renew Perkins … but Chairman Kline is reticent to speak so his spokesperson, Lauren Aronson, said in a statement about the Perkins program that “the current patchwork of federal student aid programs has become so confusing that it can discourage individuals from pursuing a higher education.”
Hmmm … so if there is a “patchwork” of programs, that included Perkins and FAFSA, that need to be reformed, WHY hasn’t Chairman Kline addressed that.
Chairman Kline is retiring in January 2017 … and his legacy is deplorable … with the most outrageous aspect was to add a processing fee onto student loans so as to make “profits for the federal government.”