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PROSPER Act Shortchanges Students, Undermines Higher Ed Safeguards

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Ashley Harrington

Bill to dismantle higher education opportunity passes committee after late night vote and without bipartisan support

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, shortly after midnight, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed the PROSPER Act, a bill to eliminate important programs and safeguards that make higher education accessible and affordable for low-income students. The bill was approved without bipartisan support after a daylong debate and markup procedure where Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and other sponsors of the legislation summarily denied nearly all 40 amendments submitted by her Democratic colleagues.

The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) has called on members of the committee and Members of Congress to reject this bill which would: rollback borrower defense and gainful employment rules; eliminate state authority to regulate student loan servicers; use taxpayer dollars to prioritize for-profit colleges over public and non-profit colleges and universities; cut funding for minority-serving institutions, like historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs); and dismantle all student loan forgiveness programs.

CRL counsel Ashley Harrington released the following statement in response to last night’s vote:

This bill does only one thing—it widens the wealth divide by ensuring that the gap between those who can afford to attend college and those who can’t becomes more difficult to bridge than ever. It increases the ability of predatory for-profit college institutions to access taxpayer dollars and dismisses the call of students who want assistance with the crushing burden of student loan debt.

In 2008, we saw firsthand what happens when we support industry and businesses at the public’s expense. The student loan debt crisis is on track to decimate our economy and our communities in much the same way the mortgage crisis did. Should this bill become law as written, it will only accelerate that process.

There are numerous ways to address higher education costs and access—we can create a system that’s more fair and equitable, including increasing our investment in college and career readiness, opening more pathways to loan forgiveness, and working to stem the exponentially rising cost of college. Unfortunately, this bill does nothing to address these concerns. Instead, the PROSPER Act is a war on students and pushes higher education further out of reach for many Americans than ever before.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with a CRL spokesperson on this issue, please contact Ricardo Quinto at ricardo.quinto@responsiblelending.org.