WASHINGTON – Today Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) sent a letter to Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urging the Secretary to reconsider reported plans to permit colleges to selectively limit students’ borrowing based on their field of study. Rep. Harder warned this action could not only disproportionally affect lower-income families who are more likely to need loans but would also restrict their ability to choose a field of study best suited to their interests or local needs.
“Less than 18 percent of folks in our community have a bachelor’s degree – and in many cases, that’s because a degree is just too expensive,” said Rep. Harder. “I don’t understand why Secretary DeVos would even consider this move – we should be making it easier to get an education, not putting up more hurdles.”
The full text of this letter is available here and below.
Dear Secretary DeVos,
In January of this year, it was reported that your Department is considering a pilot program to limit student borrowing. The program would allow colleges to selectively impose caps on students’ ability to borrow money to pursue an education based on a specific field of study. Under title 20 USC§1094a(b)(3)(B), the Department does not have this authority. Limiting access to education for low-income students is simply unacceptable, and would be devastating to the Central Valley’s economy.
Less than 18 percent of my district holds a Bachelor’s degree – and some of the other 82% missed out on educational opportunity not because they didn’t want it or because they chose a different path, but because the costs were too high and the barriers too insurmountable. Rather than increasing my constituents’ access to education, a policy like the one you proposed selectively restricts much-needed access for families and students in the Central Valley. It would push them out of participating colleges and create extra space for wealthier families from coastal and suburban areas who don’t need to take out as many loans.
Education is one of the most important factors in economic mobility. It helps Central Valley students build the skills they need to get a good job and get ahead. Over your career, you have been unwavering in your opposition to government involvement in the American education system. I would urge you to carefully consider the consequences of instituting government control over students’ accessibility to education.
Representative Harder has been a leader in the effort to hold Secretary DeVos accountable. Last year, he supported efforts to subpoena her regarding the violation of a court order, stood up to her efforts to deny veterans student loan forgiveness, and took her to task over the Education Department’s elimination of multiple literacy programs.
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