DeVos, House Democrats Clash Over Education Freedom Scholarships
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s $5 billion plan to provide students with more school choices was met with skepticism from House Democrats at a recent hearing.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wants to shake up the status quo at
the Department of Education to give students more options to obtain
an education through Education
Freedom Scholarships. However, her proposal was met
with skepticism from House Democrats at an April 10 House
Education and Labor Committee hearing.
committee chairman Bobby Scott introduced a bill to invest $100
billion in school infrastructure called the Rebuild
America’s Schools Act. But DeVos criticized the
measure in her opening testimony and during questioning.
“Our proposal of
a $5 billion tax credit draws a bright contrast to what some have
proposed $100 billion for buildings versus $5 billion for students.
This administration urges this body to invest in students,” said
When pressed on her
desire to focus on EFS, DeVos said she believes that “we need to
pivot and try something different and empower students at the local
level to make different choices.” DeVos also said she wants crumbling infrastructure to be the responsibility of state
governments and local communities.
The EFS proposal
would provide a $5 billion annual federal tax credit for voluntary
donations to state-based scholarship programs. The scholarships will
be funded through voluntary contributions from taxpayers to
state-identified scholarship granting organizations. However, the
implication that EFS will not come out of ED funding isn’t exactly
accurate, according to an analysis by The
DeVos also focused
her testimony on her desire to expand the Pell
Grant program beyond the traditional four-year college
“The vast majority
of students today do not pursue a traditional four-year degree,”
said DeVos. “We must urgently rethink our approach to higher
education because today federal student aid holds $1.5 trillion in
outstanding student loans.”
Her proposal is to
expand Pell Grant eligibility to short term, “high quality”
programs for certifications and dual enrollment programs. “We know
that there are many jobs today that require just a short-term program
and yet we have been very rigid in how we view the use of Pell
funds,” said DeVos. “We believe in expanding that and look
forward to work with congress on the appropriate guardrails.”
When it comes to
financial aid, DeVos touted the release of the myStudentAid
app, which allows students to submit their Free
Application for Federal Student Aid forms via a mobile app. She
also expressed her support for the FAFSA
Act that passed the Senate during the last legislative
session but that was not taken up in the House.
In addition, DeVos
also stated that more information will be added to ED’s College
Scorecard. Students will be able to get program-level
data by institution so that they can compare between institutions and
see what the cost will be at different colleges and universities.
Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.
Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.
Friedman can be contacted at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.
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