Regulating U.S. Colleges for Student Debts Seen Winning Support

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Marco Rubio, the son of a bartender and the first in his family to go to college, just finished repaying more than $125,000 in student-loan debt from the University of Florida and the University of Miami law school.

Now, Rubio, a Florida senator and a rising star in the Republican Party, is embracing a bipartisan bill that would force colleges to give students information about costs and career prospects.

After a decade of resistance from universities, Congress is poised to take on college prices amid a groundswell of anger about tuition outpacing inflation and family incomes, leaving borrowers with $1 trillion in debt. Politicians from both parties are seeking to compel colleges to tell students how much they could be expected to earn from their degrees, spell out fees and debt in plain English, reward schools that keep tuition affordable -- and punish those that don’t.

“We’re at the early stages of a transformation -- 10 years from now, higher education won’t look the same,” said Richard Vedder, an Ohio University economics professor who directs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. “There are millions of people feeling the pain of student debt. When that number gets big enough, it starts to permeate the public consciousness.”

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