GOP Party Platform Would Limit Federal Role in Student Lending, Improve Consumer Disclosure
The 2012 Republican Party formally approved a party platform this week at its convention in Tampa, Fla. that calls for improved consumer disclosures in higher education, limiting the federal role in student lending and expanding access to alternative college education programs.
"Federal student aid is on an unsustainable path," the party platform states. "It is time to get back to basics and to higher education programs directly related to job opportunities."
While the plan does not specifically detail how to put financial aid on a sustainable path, it does call for limiting the federal government's role in student lending, and strengthening the private sector's participation in financing loans.
"The federal government should not be in the business of originating student loans; however, it should serve as an insurance guarantor for the private sector as they offer loans to students," the party platform states.
The Republican Party also cautions against burdensome regulations in this private sector approach to student lending.
"Any regulation that drives tuition costs higher must be reevaluated to balance its worth against its negative impact," the plan states.
The platform also calls for greater transparency from higher education institutions to better inform students and their families. The plan calls for improved disclosure on completion rates, repayment rates and future earnings.
The plan also emphasizes a need for competition among higher education institutions, outlining the importance of non-traditional paths to higher education.
"New systems of learning are needed to compete with traditional four-year colleges: expanded community colleges and technical institutions, private training schools, online universities, life-long learning, and work-based learning in the private sector," the platform states. "New models for acquiring advanced skills will be ever more important in the rapidly changing economy of the 21st century, especially in science, technology, engineering, and math."
With regard to the federal budget, the party also calls for a constitutional amendment to balance the budget that would require a super-majority for any tax increase, with exceptions for war and national emergencies. The plan would also impose a cap to "limit spending to the historical average percentage of GDP so that future Congresses cannot balance the budget by raising taxes."
On the topic of sequestration, the party platform makes no mention of the across-the-board cuts to non-defense spending, including education. The Budget Control Act mandates automatic spending cuts (sequestration) in fiscal year 2013 for certain discretionary spending programs, since Congress failed to meet its Jan. 2012 deadline to enact major budget savings. Though the Pell Grant would be exempt from cuts, funding for the U.S. Department of Education would be reduced by $3.54 billion, including cuts to Federal Work Study and the Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grant.