College Cost Reduction Act Could Restore Taxpayer Confidence

Earlier this year, House Education and Workforce Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced H.R. 6951, the College Cost Reduction Act, a major piece of legislation that would improve fiscal accountability for higher education. For years, the Biden administration has been attempting to sidestep Congress by unilaterally shifting debt from college borrowers to taxpayers. Although some of his most egregious attempts have been struck down by courts, he has now approved nearly $138 billion of student debt forgiveness, which presents a continuing challenge for taxpayers concerned about runaway government deficits. 

This bill would address some of the causes of inflated higher education borrowing through a number of innovative measures. Significantly, the legislation would curb the executive branch’s authority to unilaterally transfer student loan debt to taxpayers. This is incredibly important because of President Biden’s repeated attempts to forgive hundreds of billions in student debt despite substantial judicial and congressional pushback.

Another good provision in the bill is the new limits on the amount that borrowers can take out, caused by sunsetting the uncapped PLUS graduate loan program, which would help disincentivize runaway college costs. This, along with other included loan program consolidation measures, would also help pare back the confusing number of programs available for borrowers.

Another reform in the bill would peg maximum student aid at the median cost of college attendance but with variance that is based on fields of study. This would incentivize administrators to drive down college costs overall and perhaps help drive students to careers where they could more easily pay down their own debt.

Overall, this bill moves the conversation about higher education costs in the right direction - reducing incentives that drive up costs, and reining in executive branch overreaches on debt transfers. While the limitations on debt transfers will save taxpayers significantly, without an official Congressional Budget Office analysis on some of the other provisions, some important data remains unknown. Regardless, the House Education and Workforce Committee should be commended for making innovative progress in higher education policy.