Legislative Endorsement: Heritage Action Supports Chairwoman Virginia Foxx’s College Cost Reduction Act (H.R. 6951)

Blog Articles · Mar 5, 2024

American college and university tuition has skyrocketed, completion rates have dropped, and career preparation has been replaced by indoctrination—all while taxpayers are left holding the bag. The rising cost of higher education is not new and is acknowledged across the entire political spectrum. While the Biden administration’s response is to redistribute the responsibility of repaying student loan debt to all taxpayers, Republicans in the House of Representatives have a real solution to begin addressing the root cause. H.R. 6951—the College Cost Reduction Act–would reauthorize key parts of the Higher Education Act (HEA) and make several important reforms to lower the cost of tuition by eliminating federal subsidies for higher education and enhancing institutional accountability to taxpayers.

Providing Taxpayer Relief by Eliminating Grad PLUS and Parent PLUS Programs

Over the years, the HEA has undergone several reauthorizations, introducing numerous new programs, altering borrowing limits, and adjusting grant eligibility criteria. The accumulation of new programs, such as Parent PLUS and Grad PLUS, has resulted in wasteful government spending, unregulated borrowing, and an effective carte blanche for colleges that have consistently raised tuition as unlimited government-backed loans poured in.

The PLUS loan program, totaling $22.5 billion in 2023, enables graduate students and parents of undergraduates to borrow without defined limits on the amount or duration of borrowing. This lending approach encourages American families and students to take on substantial debt—without a guaranteed return on the investment—while fueling tuition increases at universities. The Graduate PLUS loan program extends this pattern to graduate students, despite already ample access to federal loans through the Stafford Loan program. The College Cost Reduction Act relieves taxpayers of further financial strain and addresses the concerning relationship between aid-dependence and rising educational costs by eliminating these programs.

Requiring Schools to Have Skin in the Game

The College Cost Reduction Act would ensure that institutions of higher education have financial skin in the game, benefiting both students and taxpayers. It requires public universities to repay a portion of the taxpayer-subsidized contributions to higher education. This will apply to outstanding annual alumni loan interest based on program expenses, graduate income, or completion rates for students who did not graduate. This risk-sharing requirement for public universities shifts accountability onto institutions, incentivizing them to lower costs and educate their students for better career opportunities.

Reversing the Damage of the Left’s Regressive Policies and Limiting Bureaucratic Overreach

While Democrats appear to be willing to accept Biden’s fiscally irresponsible student debt transfer schemes—estimated to cost taxpayers hundreds of billions while doing nothing to solve the problem—Republicans are proposing solutions that tackle the root cause: the staggering cost of higher education. Instead of inventing new repayment plans or modifying existing ones to increase expenses for taxpayers, H.R. 6951 would prohibit executive overreach by forbidding the Department of Education from transferring student debt burdens to hardworking Americans—the majority of whom did not attend college.

The College Cost Reduction Act would align institutional success with student success by rescinding harmful regulations like the gainful employment rule and the 90/10 rule which burden students and institutions with arbitrary metrics and harsh penalties, disrupting market competition and driving up tuition.

Providing Long-Overdue Reforms to Accreditation

The current version of the Higher Education Act ties federal student aid to accreditation, making it virtually mandatory for most institutions, despite limited evidence to suggest that accreditation effectively ensures quality. Rather, accrediting bodies often overstep their authority and impose leftist political agendas on universities.

The College Cost Reduction Act establishes a more flexible accreditation landscape by empowering states to select accreditors suited to particular industries and have those accreditors define outcome standards for student success. Furthermore, the bill establishes conditions for accreditation that prohibit accreditors from imposing any ideological agendas, such as requirements related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.


H.R. 6951 makes vital reforms to higher education, addressing many concerns about its value and affordability. Schools that are fulfilling their intended institutional purpose of educating students to live flourishing lives and obtain gainful employment at a fair price should welcome the reforms in the College Cost Reduction Act. At the same time, while working to advance this comprehensive reform package, Congress should not turn its back on addressing the mounting actions from the administration to “cancel” student loan debt.

Americans are united in the acknowledgment that tuition costs and student loan debt are excessively high, institutions are failing to prepare our students, and many students end up worse off financially after pursuing a postsecondary degree. Previous attempts to address these issues with temporary fixes have only exacerbated the underlying problem: the cost of a college education is exorbitant, and the return on investment is unclear. H.R. 6951 would provide relief to taxpayers, make educational opportunities more affordable, and align institutional success with student success.