Political Editors / October 18, 2019

Democrats’ College ‘Affordability’ Act Is Anything But

It’s a de facto loan-forgiveness program that will only increase the cost of higher education.

On Tuesday, House Democrats introduced their egregiously misnamed College Affordability Act. The bill is essentially a loan-forgiveness program, though it doesn’t necessarily cancel student loans outright. As The Daily Signal reports, “The College Affordability Act would cap monthly payments and enable students to enroll in an income-based repayment plan. Students who make regular payments would then have the remainder of their loan balances forgiven after 20 years.” So, irrespective of how much debt students might accumulate, they’ll be on the hook only for income-based repayment up to 20 years. Everything after that is forgiven (read: is picked up by taxpayers). And the bill would not only bail out students, but also parents who take loans to send their kids to college.

In addition, the act would change and expand the Pell Grant system, significantly increasing the maximum amount awarded as well as further incentivizing lawlessness by removing the current ban on prisoners — yes, prisoners — qualifying for these grants.

The bill would also create a $500 million grant program that’s inspirationally dubbed “America’s College Promise” and seeks to subsidize the cost of community college — again, at taxpayer expense.

We’ll say this for the Democrats: They’ve taken the fine art of euphemism to audacious new levels. Imagine, for example, if they were forced to sell to their constituents a more honestly named bill, such as “The College Loan Bailout Act” or “The Community College Subsidy Act.”

The estimated taxpayer cost for the College Affordability Act is $400 billion, but as is always the case in Washington it will certainly surpass that total. Finally, as the Signal notes, “[The act] includes absolutely no provision to drive down college costs or insulate taxpayers from students’ inability to pay off their loans. In fact, through increased access to income-based repayment, taxpayers are even more exposed.”

And here we thought this bill was about “affordability” rather than further subsidizing an outrageously overpriced enterprise.

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