News & Politics

Tlaib: Congress Should Use Federal Funding as 'Leverage' to Get Colleges to Lower Tuition Costs

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., listens to a constituent in Wixom, Mich., Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

While Democratic candidates for president call for student loan debt forgiveness, some members of Congress are not sure how to address students who recently paid off their college loans.

“I’m not sure. I can tell you this. I think there should be some data, and there probably is, about how that may have set them back and their quality of life, being able to live their life, like what can we do to help support them that way?” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, who has signed onto a bill to forgive existing $1.6 trillion student loan debt.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, has said students who have been able to pay off their college loans should support student loan debt forgiveness for others.

“I think it’s kind of this hazing mentality, like, because I was hazed now everyone else needs to be hazed in the future. As someone who has paid off thousands of dollars for student loans, I don’t think that repeating the same mistake and perpetuating it for the next generation is fair,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I think for a lot of folks who have paid off their loans, I’m sure that and I would hope that they would think about their kids and the next generation to come.”

Tlaib was asked how Congress should address the issue of rising tuition costs at public and private colleges. She suggested using federal funding as “leverage” over public colleges and universities.

“I think we need to talk about affordability — just like health care affordability and college — the fact that there are real conversations going on of how can we increase Pell Grants, options,” she said.

“Universities that are public universities that I know of that rely heavily on state and federal funding, sometimes, for different projects, different research projects and things like that, that we can leverage that funding in saying, ‘that’s great but you also need to be affordable and many of your folks need to be able to leave your schools debt-free,’ especially when you are getting a lot of subsidies, in so many ways, subsidies at all levels of government — I’ve seen universities get ton of it — that we leverage that, we leverage that power here,” she added.