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Foxx reiterates desire to hold hearings on student loan reform, though repeal unlikely

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness, told The Chronicle of Higher Education recently she aims to hold hearings to examine student loan reform, which became law in 2010 with the goal of ending federal government subsidization of private loan companies. The desire to roll back reform made Foxx the subject of a segment on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show.

Now, in a recent interview with Inside Higher Ed, Foxx reiterates her desire to hold hearings on student loan reform though, she says, repealing the reform bill, SAFRA (Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act), is not a priority to her.

Q. Your Republican colleagues in the House are calling for repealing the health care law. You strongly opposed the overhaul of the student loan programs that was enacted in the same budget reconciliation legislation. Would you favor a similar repeal of SAFRA, to restore the Federal Family Education Loan Program, and do you foresee (and would you favor) an attempt to do that?

A. There will be many opportunities in the coming months to look closely at federal student loan programs. I expect to hold hearings to gain additional insight on how student loan programs are performing and if recent changes are proving to be effective or ineffective. At this point I don’t know that a repeal would be a top priority.

Foxx also lays out her vision higher education in America, saying fiscal responsibility in higher ed funding is her priority. She says this despite her problems with student loan reform, which the Congressional Budget Office says will save $62 million over the next decade.

Q. What do you perceive to be the biggest problems facing American higher education right now?

A. Though perhaps not unique to higher education, a major problem facing institutions of higher education is the delay in fully grasping the magnitude of the fiscal problems facing our country. Many sectors are grappling with this issue and higher education is by no means exempt.

America is facing a real turning point, where we are borrowing about four out of every 10 dollars we spend. We must come to terms with this reality and focus on avoiding the fate of nations like Greece and Ireland who borrowed and spent far beyond their means.

As we work through new standards of spending restraint, we will concentrate on accountability for every taxpayer dollar — and that must include the dollars spent on higher education. We are in a different world than when the economy was booming, and everyone needs to adjust to that reality.

[...]

Q. More generally, you have said you don’t believe there’s an appropriate role for the federal government in higher education. How far do you think the current, fairly significant role can — or should — be rolled back?

A. The federal government’s involvement in higher education can and should be scaled back gradually in the coming years. Ideally we’d be able to reduce the burdensome federal bureaucracy and delegate much of the funding and policy decision making to state governments. This would help to foster better solutions to the specific issues confronting higher education and provide improved accountability for taxpayer dollars.

In addition to her new role on the higher education subcommittee, Foxx was named vice-chair of grassroots development for the National Republican Congressional Committee on Thursday.

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