Tuberville Introduces Legislation to Lower the Cost of Graduate School

The GOAL Act would fight rising tuition costs by capping inflationary graduate student loans

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Alabama’s voice on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today led the introduction of legislation to fight rising tuition costs by capping federal student loans for graduate education. The Graduate Opportunity and Affordable Loans (GOAL) Act reinstitutes a limit on the amount in graduate PLUS loans that can be taken out by a single student.

“More and more of our young people are finding themselves buried in student loan debt,” said Senator Tuberville. “As a result, too many of our young people are falling behind on their life goals, like buying a house. Over my last 15 years in coaching, I saw tuition costs explode for young people across America. Now Joe Biden’s loan giveaway is projected to increase inflation even more. My bill says, ‘enough is enough’ — it sets a maximum limit on graduate school loans to stop the most egregious examples of students being exploited for profit. The federal blank check for graduate loans has done nothing to increase access to education, but it’s done everything to drive up costs for students and put the taxpayers on the hook. My bill would put a stop to this and force schools to compete for students by bringing down costs. The GOAL Act would help more of our young people to achieve their goals.”

Senator Tuberville announced the GOAL Act a press conference with three of his Republican colleagues. Senator Tuberville’s remarks from that press conference can be seen here.

The legislation was introduced as a part of the Lowering Education Costs and Debt Act, a landmark Republican package of five bills aimed at directly addressing the issues driving the skyrocketing cost of higher education and the increasing amounts of debt students take on to attend school. Senator Tuberville is an original cosponsor of all five bills in the package.

Graduate student loans account for almost half of the federal student loan debt taken each year and 40% of the $1.7 trillion in outstanding federal student loans, despite accounting for only 16% of postsecondary students.

Since Congress removed the borrowing limit in 2006, unlimited graduate PLUS loans have not expanded student participation, but have subsidized the dramatic increase in tuition costs driving American students further into debt. Research shows lifting the limit on graduate student loan borrowing did not increase access while driving the cost of tuition higher.

To stop the rise of tuition costs, theGOAL Act would: 

  • Replace PLUS Loans with separate undergraduate Stafford and graduate Stafford loans, with separate loan limits.
  • Allow institutions of higher education to set lower loan limits by program, which will give schools a chance to protect their students from over-borrowing.
  • For graduate school borrowing:
    • Keep annual unsubsidized Stafford loan limit at $20,500.
    • Establish total unsubsidized graduate Stafford loan limit at $65,000.
  • For professional degree borrowing:
    • Set annual unsubsidized Stafford loan limits at $40,500.
    • Establish aggregate unsubsidized Stafford loan limit at $130,000.

In addition to Senator Tuberville’s bill, theLowering Education Costs and Debt Act would:

  • Provide students and families with better information to choose the right school and program of study to achieve the best return on investment for them.
  • Simplify the student loan borrowing process to prevent students from unintentionally taking out more loans than they can afford or need.
  • Ensure borrowers can navigate student loan repayment options without unnecessary confusion.
  • Guide students against taking on debt to attend programs that do not translate to higher-paying job opportunities.

A one-page explanation of the GOAL Act can be found here.


Senator Tuberville has repeatedly called on the Biden administration to address the root causes of rising tuition costs and the student loan crisis.

From 1980–2020, the average cost of college attendance nearly tripled, rising 169%, much faster than inflation overall, which rose by 26%. In the same time, federal student aid increased by 57%, According to a 2017 study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, expanding student loans increased college tuition by roughly the same amount: 60%.

Earlier this year, Senator Tuberville cosponsored and voted for legislation to stop the U.S. Department of Education’s rule to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt for every borrower making less than $125,000 per year. Borrowers who received federal Pell Grants would receive an additional $10,000 in debt transference from President Biden’s Executive Order. The plan, which Congress voted to overturn via Congressional Review Act resolution, is expected to cost American taxpayers $400 billion. President Biden vetoed the bipartisan resolution. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision in a case challenging the Biden administration’s unlawful student loan cancelation scheme later this month.

The vast majority of the American people do not have graduate degrees or even college degrees. Nearly nine in ten Americans have no student debt, and the majority of all student debt is held by Americans in the top 60% of income.

As the ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee’s Subcommittee on Children and Families, Senator Tuberville believes education is the key to freedom. To learn more about Senator Tuberville’s work to promote quality education and opportunities, click here.

Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.