WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Rick Scott announced the introduction of the Changing Our Learning, Loans, Endowments, and Graduation Expectations (COLLEGE) Act to force universities to take more responsibility when it comes to preparing students for successful careers and to hold university administrators accountable for unacceptable skyrocketing price of education. Senator Scott’s legislation puts higher education institutions on the hook for student debt, implements reporting requirements for metrics related to student success and ensures that massive university endowments benefit students and families first.
Senator Rick Scott said, “For far too long, state and federal leaders have taken a misguided and failed approach to managing public institutions of higher education. The result of their decades of failed policy and mismanagement is millions of Americans with mountains of student debt racked up earning degrees that haven’t prepared them for good, high-paying job in the real world. Now, these same ‘leaders’ are claiming that the answer to our higher education problems is massive and unconditional student loan debt forgiveness. It’s choosing to treat a symptom when we can cure the disease. If we want real results that improve student performance, boost post-graduation job placement and keep tuition affordable, we need to do the hard work of actually holding colleges and universities responsible for the outcomes of their students and accountable to the American taxpayer. My COLLEGE Act takes big, important steps toward doing exactly that.
“As Governor of Florida, I fought every day to improve higher education in the Sunshine State. Our hard work with the leaders of Florida’s colleges and universities allowed us to increase transparency of higher education expenses, keep higher education affordable by holding the line on tuition and improve both educational and post-graduation outcomes for our students. This all resulted in U.S. News and World Report naming Florida’s higher education system as the best in the country in 2017 – a position it has held every year since. The COLLEGE Act continues this important work and will apply the lessons we learned in Florida to higher education institutions and systems across the nation. I urge my colleagues to support this good bill and join me in our fight to put America’s students first.”
As Governor of Florida, Senator Scott made keeping Florida’s higher education affordable and accessible a major priority of his administration and secured major wins for families and students. He fought to hold the line on tuition at Florida’s public colleges and universities, vetoing any attempts to increase costs, eliminating automatic tuition increases and successfully preventing any tuition hikes between 2012 and 2018. As Governor, Senator Scott also repeatedly challenged the state’s higher education institutions to reduce costs for students and improve post-graduation job placement rates. This work included his $10,000 Degree Challenge and the “Ready, Set, Work” Challenge. When Senator Scott ended his term as Governor, every public college and university in Florida that offered baccalaureate degrees also offered at least one $10,000 degree. Similarly, by the end of his term in 2018, all 28 state colleges and 12 state universities accepted his “Ready, Set, Work” Challenge and agreed to commit to 100% of their graduates either graduating to a four-year university or gaining full-time employment within a year of graduation.
The COLLEGE Act continues Senator Scott’s significant efforts to keep higher education affordable and accessible for all students and families, and ensure higher education institutions are preparing students for great jobs after graduation by:
1. Putting Institutions on the Hook for Student Loan Debt
- The COLLEGE Act creates an agreement between institutions and students. Beginning the first year after enactment, an institution is responsible for 1% of the loan balance of students who are in default, within the first three fiscal years where their loans have entered repayment. Institutions are responsible for 2% in the second year, increasing to 10% of that balance at the end of 10 years.
- Forcing universities to have accountability for student debt provides a powerful incentive to actually prepare students for careers – instead of encouraging mountains of debt and degrees that don’t lead to jobs after graduation.
2. Reporting Requirements for Accountability-Driven & Results-Oriented Metrics
- The COLLEGE Act requires the Secretary of Education to publish a variety of important and common-sense metrics from public colleges and universities, such as the 6-year graduation rate for each academic program, the percentage of graduates who are employed full-time or continuing their education full-time after graduation and the cost to graduate with a degree for each academic program.
- Metrics create accountability to ensure each higher education institutions are doing its most important job: preparing students for the opportunity to get a great job following graduation, build a career and become self-sufficient.
3. Forcing University Endowments to Work for Students First
- The COLLEGE Act requires any university with an endowment to report to the Secretary of Education the size and growth of its endowment, and provide a cost-match for federal financial student aid award to pay for tuition, educational costs (books, equipment, etc.) and living expenses charged to students based on the size of the endowment. The larger the value of the endowment, the higher the match the university must provide. For example:
- For endowments greater than $1 billion, but less than $5 billion, there will be a 25% university cost-match and 75% federal financial aid eligibility.
- For endowments greater than $5 billion, but less than $10 billion, there will be a 50% university cost-match and 50% federal financial aid eligibility.
- For endowments greater than $10 billion, there will be a 75% university cost-match and 25% federal financial aid eligibility.