Education Secretary Betsy Devos calls student debt forgiveness 'a truly insidious notion' and free college 'a socialist takeover'
Outgoing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos presented a bold defense of her record four years later, impaling proposals from progressive politicians on student debt relief and free college at the Federal Student Aid (FSA) 2020 virtual education conference Tuesday.
“After almost four years in the job, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the remarkable changes we have made at the FSA in recent years,” DeVos said at the start of the keynote address, “and then to discuss what else to do is to be done for students. "
"A socialist takeover of higher education"
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DeVos targeted proposals to pay off student debts, a proposal that the new Biden government advocated, calling debt relief "the truly insidious idea of giving government gifts."
"We heard high-pitched calls to quit, to forgive, to do everything for free," added Devos. "Every harmless label out there cannot disguise what it really is: false."
She also denounced the Democratic-backed idea of providing low-income Americans with a free college, calling the proposal "a socialist takeover of higher education".
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA on September 28, 2017. REUTERS / Mary Schwalm
"Depending on your personal policies, some of you may not find this notion as scary as I do," DeVos said. "But mark my words: Neither of you want how it will work."
The way the government handled student loans is a case in point, she argued.
"The first step was to monopolize student loans," DeVos said. “Can someone say $ 1.5 trillion later with a straight face that the students are doing better? That taxpayers are better off? "
Liberating the college would water down the quality of American higher education, DeVos claimed, adding, “If the politicians proposing a“ free college ”today find their way, just watch our colleges and universities begin to fail K-12 school to resemble customer service of the DMV to boot. "
DeVos also claimed that it "would be fundamentally unfair to ask two-thirds of Americans who don't go to college to pay the bills for only one-third who do." And it's even more unfair to those who stopped the end of the business and paid back their student loans themselves to subsidize those who don't save, plan, and pay. "
Instead, she proposed making the FSA, which holds the trillion dollar loan portfolio, a separate government agency with its own board of governors.
"Today the FSA has more than $ 1.5 trillion in outstanding loans," noted DeVos. "Too many of these loans are either late or late payments, or loans for which borrowers pay so little that their loan balance continues to grow."
(Graphic: David Foster)
"It was a deeply inappropriate speech"
The response to her speech was quick and sharp.
"It was a deeply inappropriate speech given at an apolitical training conference," Eddy Conroy, associate director of institutional transformation at Hope Center College, Community and Justice at Temple University, told Yahoo Finance. “It was a nude political speech that is very popular with Betsy DeVos. [and] frankly, it feels very much against higher education too. "
Devos' comments that forgiveness was “insidious” also affected Conroy, adding, “I'm kind of excited about it. .... Basically, this was an education minister who didn't think the students deserve much support from everyone. And this is just an extension of that general feeling. "
US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos attends the "Getting America's Children Back to School Safely" event in the State Room of the White House in Washington, DC on August 12, 2020. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM) / AFP via Getty Images)
Betsy Mayotte, president of the Institute of Student Loan Advisors, told Yahoo Finance that the comments “show a real lack of understanding of what the average student looks like and the cost of higher education. It appears that she didn't spend her time as a secretary studying the dates and issues, but instead chose to hang her hat on the one-liners of partisan politics. "
Mayotte added that it was also a misunderstanding to say that the granting of loans is not fair to those who have paid back their loans as it "assumes that the playing field is level from the start".
Amid the largely political speech, DeVos mentioned an issue that everyone seems to agree on right now: the cost of higher education is spiraling out of control.
"Institutions also need to take a long look in the mirror," said DeVos. "The higher education industry has to deliver products that are worth the price."
Aarthi is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.
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