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Senator Enzi: Narrow Focus on For-Profit Hearings Will Not Solve Problems Facing Today's Higher Ed Students

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, today said the interests of the nation’s students are not being served by the Committee’s current series of hearings focused on for- profit schools, and called for the Committee to get back to work on a solution to the real problems facing students pursuing higher education.

“Students are taking on too much debt, loan defaults are too high, and it is too difficult to find jobs or even complete a program of study. Tuition continues to rise in all sectors of higher education faster than the rate of inflation, putting the dream of a college education out of reach for many of our most financially vulnerable students,” Enzi said. “It is naïve to think that these problems are limited to just the for-profit sector.”

Enzi said protecting the interests of the nation’s students requires serious inquiry into the increasing costs of higher education, and removing bad actors from all institutions of higher learning. He emphasized that solutions for increasing access to a college education will require solving the rising rate of student loan defaults, listening to education policy experts, and probing the dramatic regulatory changes proposed by the Department of Education.

“I am ready and willing to work with the Chairman to begin addressing these problems, and help achieve the President’s goal of being first in the world in college completion by 2020,” Enzi said. 

However, he noted, “Today’s hearing appears to have been planned in conjunction with the Department of Education’s proposed gainful employment rule, discriminating against all for-profit schools while ignoring colleges and universities with the same record.”

Enzi also addressed the absence of Republican witnesses on the panel, saying that in two previous hearings, witnesses invited by Republicans received hostile treatment. Majority members of the Committee chose to mischaracterize testimony and attempted to lead the witnesses representing for-profit schools into misstatements, he said.   “I refrained from leading another witness into that kind of treatment,” Enzi told the Committee.