June 10, 2015

Senator Warren Lays Out Comprehensive Framework for Making College Affordable Again by Renewing Investments and Strengthening Incentives to Increase Quality and Reduce Costs

Full text of the speech is available here

Fact sheets on the Senator's proposals are available here:

Fact sheet on changing incentives for colleges
Fact sheet on strengthening accountability
Fact sheet on renewing state investments in higher ed
Fact sheet on reforming federal higher ed programs

WASHINGTON, DC - In a speech today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren laid out a comprehensive framework and a set of policies championed by both Republicans and Democrats to improve college affordability for all students by renewing investments in higher education and aligning incentives to ensure that the federal government, states, and colleges work effectively to increase quality and reduce costs. Senator Warren delivered her remarks to kick off a panel hosted by the Albert Shanker Institute (ASI) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) titled "The Affordability Crisis: Rescuing the Dream of College Education for the Working-Class and Poor."

Noting that $1.3 trillion in total student loan debt is crushing students, Senator Warren called for dramatic reforms to make college more affordable and open up debt-free higher education options for students. Embracing the central critiques of both Democrats and Republicans, she explained that effective reform must include both a renewed commitment to investing in higher education at the state and federal levels combined with an effort to strengthen accountability and realign incentives so that colleges are encouraged to keep costs down and provide a high-quality education.

"Democrats talk about resources, pointing out that we're no longer investing in our kids the way we once did. Republicans talk about risk and incentives - arguing that students take on debt without fully understanding the consequences, and that colleges get access to federal dollars pretty much no matter the quality or cost of the education that they provide," the Senator said in her remarks. "Here's the truth - both sides are right... Our college crisis needs a one-two punch -more resources and better incentives to keep costs low."

Senator Warren went on to identify a set of specific proposals to make college more affordable. She highlighted ways to change incentives to ensure that colleges put students first, such as requiring colleges to share in the risks from student loans, implementing a rule against taxpayer waste, and rewarding colleges that keep costs down. The Senator also called on states to refinance student loans in the face of Congressional obstruction, and to end cuts to higher education or face federal requirements to do so. The speech also called for reform of the federal role in higher education, including state-federal partnerships to support public schools, fixing the Pell Grant system, simplifying financial aid, and changing the rules of the student loan program to prioritize students over federal profits. The speech also expressed support for measures that would strengthen accountability for the Department of Education (ED) to ensure that there are real consequences for student loan servicers and colleges that break the law and cheat students.

"This is a critical moment in America, a moment at which we reconsider how to build a future," the Senator said. "We cannot build a 21st Century workforce and a 21st Century economy if colleges keep raising prices, if states keep cutting support, and if the federal government squanders billions of student loan dollars on schools that do not serve their students. If we drown our young people in debt, we drown this country's future... I believe that we can - and we must - make college affordable for every hard-working kid who wants to get an education."

Read the full text of the speech here.