How Do We Knock Out The Higher Education ‘Cartel’? Sen. Rubio Has Some Ideas

WASHINGTON — Something needs to be done about the “higher education cartel.” At least, that’s what Sen. Marco Rubio says.

There are massive problems surrounding higher education in America, but there are many sensible conservative solutions, he said in a speech Wednesday co-hosted by Hillsdale College and YG network. The Florida senator laid out a three-fold reform plan, including changing the accreditation process, implementing income pace repayment and creating student investment plans– an alternative to student loans.

“We also see the erosion of the American dream in the lives of many young Americans including many recent college graduates,” Rubio said. “Their generation is coming of age in an era of over expectations where too often caps and gowns come — not just with hope and excitement — but also with dread and apprehension. Many did everything they were told was necessary to succeed. But now they sit in their childhood bedrooms, under the weight of thousands in student loans unable to start a career or a family.”

The first conservative solution to what Rubio calls the “higher education cartel” is an independent accrediting process. By taking accreditation out of the hands of centralized authorities,  the cost of education would substantially decrease.

“I have proposed that Congress establish a new independent accrediting process designed to open the door for more innovative and affordable schools,” Rubio said. “And I proposed ways to help Christine package the free tools all around her and to an employable degree. Tools such as online resources, apprenticeships, mentorships and personal study.”

Rubio used real-life examples to demonstrate the need for crucial changes in higher education. He talked about Christine, a single mother who has been simultaneously working a full-time job and trying to get an education. Rubio said many Americans are in this predicament, and the current system is failing them.

“The online courses that Christine was taking, by the way, are actually more expensive than the cost of physically attending your local community college,” Rubio said. “Even if she received financial help, she couldn’t find an option that allowed her enough flexibility to work full-time and raise her family. And the reason for all of this is an outdated process called accreditation. A school must be accredited to award degrees that provide financial aid. But here’s the catch. Established institutions control the crediting process and as a result, the entrenched higher education cartel has the power to block out innovative, lower cost competitors.”

Because the first educational reform won’t directly affect students who have already earned a degree, the student loan bubble needs to be addressed in a realistic way as well.

“Second, I proposed an income pace repayment,” Rubio said. “The automatic repayment method for student loans. This way, Evan’s loan payments would be directly correlated to how much he earns each month, removing the risk of default.”