Scott's College Debt Proposal Gets Attention, Skepticism

Jul 26, 2018

Virginia Democrat Bobby Scott may not be locked in a tough reelection campaign, but party leaders want him to play a big role in the election outcome this fall through getting behind his plan for debt–free college.

This week Tidewater-area Congressman Bobby Scott unveiled The Aim Higher Act. It’s goal is to boost graduation rates while also not saddling the next generation of American workers with loads of debt. It does that in part by creating a new state-federal partnership that would provide federal dollars to states that offer students two free years of community college.  And it would steer students away from some for-profit schools that have come under fire for leaving students with lots of loan while also unfit for the workforce.

Credit U.S. Congress

Scott says it’s a vital bill. “We want to invest in students, focus on quality and crackdown on predatory schools. Every person deserves economic mobility and the personal growth that comes with higher education.”  

And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is fully behind Scott’s effort, which she says will show voters the difference between the two parties this fall because GOP leaders have gotten behind a bill that cuts federal support for students.  “It is in stark contrast to what the Republicans have put forth in their Prosper bill which cuts 15 billion dollars, the Republican bill cuts 15 billion dollars from financial aid and undermines the bedrock of Pell,” Pelosi said.

But Republicans brush aside the accusations. They say their party is focused on creating economic growth so graduates have jobs when they leave college.

Central Virginia Republican Dave Brat says the new Democratic proposal would balloon federal spending with more handouts.   “You can offer this that and the other thing and Democrats are good at that, they offer everything, across the board. We got trillion dollar deficits already,” Brat noted.

The debate over education is expected to be a key part of this fall’s elections, and the Commonwealth is already proving ground zero for that debate.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.