The top Republican lawmakers on the House and Senate education committees are voicing their opposition to the Department of Education’s (ED) recently unveiled draft income-driven repayment (IDR) regulations, and are calling on the department to extend the ongoing public comment period by an additional 30 days.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who was recently seated as ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee, spearheaded the joint letter to ED, which took issue with the administration’s process and costs associated with the drafted regulations.
The proposed regulations for the new IDR plan seek to remedy several issues identified by the Biden administration, including recognition that even reduced monthly payments under current IDR plans remain unaffordable for many borrowers, and concerns that 20 years is too long for borrowers with low incomes and low loan balances to wait for forgiveness under current plans.
Foxx and Cassidy expressed concern over the costs associated with the administration’s ongoing work to overhaul the student loan portfolio. They specifically took issue with estimates of the IDR program’s costs, where ED found that over a 10-year period, the proposal would cost roughly $138 billion, while other estimates found the program could run up to $1 trillion. The pair also argued that these estimates do not take into account the White House’s student loan debt cancellation program that, according to estimates, could accrue an additional $400 billion if the relief is carried out.
“This proposed regulation would cut future borrowers’ payments in half and eliminate the expectation for these borrowers to pay back even the principle on their loan. This would fundamentally break our higher education financing system,” the lawmakers wrote. “This rule would route hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars towards college-educated middle- and upper-income individuals and away from our constituents who never went to college or worked hard to pay off their loans.”
The letter goes on to criticize ED for previously ignoring a Republican request to extend a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking’s (NPRM) comment period, with the lawmakers arguing that Congress and the public need “sufficient time to consider such changes.”
“Before fundamentally transforming our higher education financing system, we implore you to follow the Clinton-era Executive Order 12866, which strongly suggests at least a 60-day comment period,” Foxx and Cassidy wrote. “By extending the public comment period by at least 30 days, the American public has time to review what could very well be the most costly regulation in our nation’s history.”
As a reminder comments are due Feb. 10, 2023. Stay tuned to Today’s News for NASFAA’s comments, final rules once issued, and more. Comments can be submitted through regulations.gov.
Publication Date: 2/7/2023