Joined by higher education leaders from across Vermont, Representative Peter Welch announced legislation this morning at the Community College of Vermont in Montpelier that addresses the nation's sky rocketing college costs. Across the nation, college costs have risen 1,120 percent over the last 30 years, with outstanding student debt now at $1.2 trillion.
"A college education, the gateway to the American middle class, is slipping further and further from the reach of working families. Federal loans and grants are a lifeline for college students. But students continue to lose ground because financial aid increases are being eaten up by college tuition increases," Welch said. "This legislation creates a partnership between the federal government and our college administrators to cut unnecessary federal regulatory costs and encourage cost saving innovations."
Welch's legislation received the endorsement of Third Way, a prominent bipartisan Washington think tank . Third Way said: "For years, Washington has sought to keep up with rising higher education costs by increasing college aid, providing cheaper student loans, and urging new Pell Grant scholarships. That was appropriate, but we have to go at this problem from the cost side as well Our economy depends on a well-educated workforce. Our workforce needs to attain the right skills without going deeply into debt. Rep. Welch's focus on college costs is the right fight at the right time."
The Flexibility to Innovate for College Affordability Act is a two-pronged approach that encourages the development of flexible pathways for students to more quickly earn a degree while removing outdated and unnecessary federal regulations that contribute to tuition hikes. The legislation would give students the freedom to use Federal grants and loans for accelerated degree completion, competency based learning, competency testing and dual enrollment. It would also create a Regulatory Reform Task Force charged with cutting unnecessary and burdensome federal regulations that contribute to college operating costs.