Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Strengthening accountability to protect students and taxpayers

Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray, and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today.While federal loans and grants play a central role in financing valuable investments in education, especially for low- and middle-income families, not all institutions or programs lead to success. Lending money to someone to attend an educational program with a demonstrated record of failure only harms the student. Unpayable loan burdens not only cost taxpayers, but they haunt borrowers for years. Poor student outcomes are caused by low-quality institutions and programs. At any given college, students from low- and high- income families have similar earnings and repayment outcomes. As a result, colleges level the playing field across students with different socioeconomic backgrounds—often lifting all boats, but sometimes sinking them. While disadvantaged students are concentrated in programs with poor outcomes, the research is clear about the direction of causality. The problem is the schools, not the students.

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