Courtney said the ultimate fate of the bill that passed the U.S. House Education & Workforce Committee on a party-line vote this week remains uncertain. He said the legislation is unlikely to come up for a House vote until early 2018 and that the Senate is likely to have a different version of the measure.
But the students present for a Friday morning news conference said the Republican bill would prevent many young people from ever attending college by ending a subsidized loan program, eliminating college loan forgiveness provisions, and failing to tackle the issue of high-interest education loans.
“This puts the American dream farther out of reach for half the population,” said Joshua Quintana, a senior at Central Connecticut State University who also works a full-time job while going to school. He called the GOP legislation “a full-on assault… on American youth.”
Shannon Rayman, who is now working on her family medical residency in eastern Connecticut, said she emerged from medical school with a $240,000 loan debt. The Republican bill that emerged from committee would cap graduate loans like hers at $150,000. Rayman said that would make it far more difficult for many to get a medical education and increase the problem of the shortage of doctors in many parts of the U.S.
Courtney said the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the overall result of the GOP bill would be to increase the cost of college education for students by $4 billion.
“This is the opposite of what we should be doing,” said Courtney, saying he believes the whole issue of student debt and college loan programs could end up damaging the GOP by driving more and more young people to the polls to take out their anger on Republican candidates.
“It defies common sense,” Courtney said of the political realities surrounding the Republican push for this legislation.