BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – In a move to combat the escalating burden of student loan debt, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville, representing Alabama and serving on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, has introduced the Graduate Opportunity and Affordable Loans (GOAL) Act. The legislation seeks to rein in rising tuition costs by imposing a cap on federal student loans for graduate education.
According to Senator Tuberville, the increasing student loan debt has hindered the progress of countless young people, impeding them from achieving crucial life goals like homeownership. Drawing upon his 15-year experience as a coach, Tuberville highlighted the exorbitant surge in tuition costs across the nation. Concerns were also raised regarding the potential inflationary impact of President Joe Biden’s loan policies. To address these issues, the GOAL Act sets a maximum limit on graduate school loans, aiming to curtail the exploitation of students for profit.
Tuberville emphasized, “Unlimited government loans have done nothing to increase access to education. All they’ve done is raise costs for students whether they take a loan or not. Everybody is having to pay.”
The senator’s statement reflects his belief that the current system of unlimited access to federal loans for graduate education has not improved educational opportunities. Instead, it has driven up costs for students and burdened taxpayers.
Under the GOAL Act, schools will be forced to compete based on affordability, thus fostering an environment where costs can be reduced. Tuberville believes that the legislation will empower more young people to achieve their educational aspirations.
The GOAL Act was introduced as part of the Lowering Education Costs and Debt Act, a comprehensive Republican package comprising five bills aimed at directly tackling the root causes of skyrocketing higher education expenses and the mounting student debt crisis. Senator Tuberville is an original cosponsor of all five bills in this package.
Statistics reveal that graduate student loans account for a significant portion of the federal student loan debt, despite comprising only 16% of postsecondary students. Since the elimination of borrowing limits in 2006, unlimited graduate PLUS loans have failed to increase access to education while simultaneously fueling the rapid rise in tuition costs, according to Tuberville.
To address this alarming trend, the GOAL Act proposes several measures. It suggests replacing PLUS Loans with separate undergraduate Stafford and graduate Stafford loans, each with their own loan limits. Additionally, institutions of higher education will have the flexibility to set lower loan limits by program, safeguarding students from excessive borrowing. The proposed limits include an annual unsubsidized Stafford loan limit of $20,500 for graduate school borrowing and an aggregate unsubsidized Stafford loan limit of $65,000. For professional degree borrowing, the annual unsubsidized Stafford loan limits would be set at $40,500, with an aggregate limit of $130,000.
In addition to the GOAL Act, the Lowering Education Costs and Debt Act includes measures to provide students and families with better information for informed decision-making, simplify the loan borrowing process, ensure clarity in loan repayment options, and guide students against debt accumulation for programs with limited job prospects.
Senator Tuberville has been a vocal advocate for addressing the underlying causes of rising tuition costs and the student loan crisis. Over the years, he has called on the Biden administration to tackle these issues effectively.
It is essential to note that the majority of American citizens do not hold graduate or even college degrees, and the burden of student debt falls primarily on individuals within the top 60% of income earners.
The GOAL Act and the broader Lowering Education Costs and Debt Act will now undergo the legislative process, where further debates and discussions are expected to shape the final outcome.