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Kline Statement: Markup of Higher Education Legislation

Today, the committee will consider a number of bipartisan bills. Each bill has a different focus, but all share a common goal: strengthening America’s higher education system.

Our country’s higher education system offers students from all walks of life opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to achieve a lifetime of success. It has helped countless individuals pursue rewarding careers, accomplish personal goals, and earn a living to provide for their families.

Unfortunately, too many Americans are struggling to realize the dream of a higher education or believe the dream of a college degree could never become a reality for them. That’s because, as I have noted before, our current system is too costly, too bureaucratic, and outdated.

Since 2005, average tuition and fees have increased by 40 percent at four-year public institutions and by more than 25 percent at four-year private nonprofit institutions. Meanwhile, a dizzying maze of student aid programs discourages students from pursuing a degree, and complex federal rules impede innovation and prevent state and institutional leaders from deciding what’s best for their students.

In the end, many students are either unable to complete college, or they graduate saddled with debt and lacking the skills they need to compete in the workforce. It shouldn’t be this difficult to earn a degree, and students and families deserve better.

That’s why reforming and improving the Higher Education Act remains a leading priority for this committee, and we’ve made significant progress in achieving that goal. While there is a lot of work still to be done to complete the reauthorization process, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take steps now to deliver important reforms students, parents, and taxpayers need.

The bills under consideration today will help us do just that. They are all bipartisan reforms that adhere to the principles we laid out last Congress—reforms that will empower students and families to make informed decisions; simplify and improve student aid; promote innovation, access, and completion; and ensure strong accountability with a limited federal role.

These proposals will help students and parents better understand their higher education options. Choosing where to go to school and how to pay for it can be a daunting task, but having the right information—and having it early—can help students make smarter, more timely decisions. These are decisions that will have a significant impact on their lives for years to come, and it’s critically important for students and families to get them right.

The bills will also enhance existing support for institutions serving minority students and hold those institutions accountable for how they are using that support. These reforms will help more students access a postsecondary education and ensure taxpayer dollars are being well spent.

Together, they will help more Americans acquire the knowledge and skills they need to compete and succeed in the workforce. Yes, they are only part of a broader solution, but they will make a real difference and provide the help students and parents need now.

I want to thank my Republican and Democrat colleagues for their work in developing these proposals. By working together, we are delivering the kind of positive, commonsense reforms that will strengthen our higher education system, and more importantly, help make a postsecondary education not just a dream but a reality for more Americans.

I look forward to advancing these reforms and to the work we have ahead of us to further strengthen higher education for students, families, and taxpayers.

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