Rep. Ro Khanna calls for free public colleges over fears forgiveness of student debt will mean higher tuition fees


Democratic lawmaker Ro Khanna has called for public colleges to be free amid fears that President Joe Biden’s student debt forgiveness program could incentivize schools to raise tuition prices.

Rep. Khanna (D-California) made the comments on Fox Business Network’s “Cavuto: Coast to Coast” Aug. 30.

While expressing support for Biden’s loan forgiveness program, the lawmaker said he’s worried schools will raise prices for students because student debt has gone down.

Host Neil Cavuto asked, “What’s to stop, however, congressman, college or university from continuing to do what they’ve been doing for decades now, just keep increasing their tuition, their room and board because now they know the prospective students, their debt just went down? »

“That’s an important question,” Khanna replied. “And that’s why I proposed that public colleges be free and that those grants be tied to no major tuition increases. That’s actually what we had in this country of 1860 to 1960.”

“The land-grant universities were basically free, and then we had state budget cuts. But if we go back to that and tie that — the money to not have inflation — to increases beyond inflation, then you’ll get the cost of college under control,” he said.

Biden announced Aug. 24 that his administration would forgive up to $20,000 in federal student debt for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for other borrowers earning less than $125,000 a year.

Pell Grant recipients are typically from low-income households and the relief is provided to help them cover their college expenses.

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The Penn Wharton Budget Model, a nonpartisan group at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, says the student loan forgiveness program will cost between $469 billion and $519 billion over the next decade. , although the exact figure depends on whether existing and new students are included.

According to the group, around 75% of the benefits will accrue to households earning $88,000 or less per year.

Republicans on the House Budget Committee, in a statement released Aug. 28, said the plan would cost U.S. taxpayers more than $330 billion and that 70 percent of those who benefit would be in the “upper half of the spectrum.” revenues “. ”

GOP lawmakers have also expressed concern over whether Biden even has the authority to provide such extensive debt relief to students.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the administration’s decision was justified under the HEROES Act of 2003, which allows his department to provide relief in response to a national emergency.

However, others fear the move will also increase the national debt, which currently stands at around $30.6 trillion, according to the Treasury Department. This is at a time when inflation is at its highest level in 40 years in the country.

“Americans are already grappling with record high inflation,” GOP members of the House Ways and Means Committee said in a statement Aug. 24. the rising cost of higher education rather than tackling it.

Former Obama administration economic adviser Larry Summers also warned that the massive cancellation of student loans could serve to further exacerbate inflation, noting that “student loan debt relief is an expenditure that increases demand and increases inflation” and that it “will also tend to be inflationary by raising tuition fees”.

The Biden administration, however, said the student loan forgiveness program will allow people to “finally start to get out of this mountain of debt to get over their rent and their utilities, to finally think about buying a home or to start”. start a family or start a business.

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Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on U.S., global, and business news.

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