McConnell ‘Out of Touch’ With Student Loan Debt


In a recent town hall in Buckner, KY, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asserted that massive student loan debt is simply the result of not shopping around enough for a competitively priced college. Essentially, he said, if you have huge amounts of student debt, it’s your fault for not choosing a for-profit college.

Senator McConnell has taken a hard stance against government funding to ease the burden of student loan debt. In the town hall, he made clear that the federal government should not be in the business of forgiving loans…hey, it was your choice, students, to take out loans in the first place. He also voted to shoot down Senator Warren’s Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act which would have allowed millions with student loan debt to refinance their loan–which is totally legal and commonplace with any other type of loan–paid for by a tax on wealthy households.

Yet Senator McConnell’s proposals to lessen student loan debt and boost the economy are out of touch, off-base and insulting to students and families across the country who bear over $1.2 trillion in debt from pursuing higher education.

Senator McConnell said he doesn’t believe in federal money forgiving student loan debt that was “voluntarily incurred.” What he suggests–proprietary schools–is an absurd solution to the student debt crisis: “I think the best short-term solution is for parents to be very cost-conscious in shopping around for higher education alternatives. Not everybody needs to go to Yale.”

As states’ attorneys general pursue cases against for-profit colleges and one of the largest companies, Corinthian Colleges, has spiraled into bankruptcy, it’s evident that for-profit colleges are not good for students. Many of the cases against these bad actors involve aggressive recruiting of low-income, veteran and minority students who bring federal and state dollars in to the company through loans and grants.

Private and public universities may cost more when looking solely at tuition, but for-profit colleges are consistently bad financially for students, in large part due to what students they recruit in the interest of making a profit. Overall, 1 in 25 students will default on their student loans, but a staggering 1 in 5 students of 2-year for-profit colleges will end up in default.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I went to a regular ol’ Kentucky college. And some people would say I’ve done okay.” That is, he attended one state university and one land-grant university for law school. Senator McConnell may think he’s “done okay,” but what he’s suggesting is definitely not okay: For-profit colleges, proven bad actors in higher education when it comes to quality and cost, are not the answer to lowering student loan debt.

By Annie Wood

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