The Senate HELP Committee Jan. 17 held a confirmation hearing for President-elect Trump’s Education Secretary nominee, Betsy DeVos. Much of the panel’s questions focused on K-12 education, but the dialogue also touched on higher education issues of importance to medical schools.
In her opening statement, Mrs. DeVos discussed students’ “difficulty accessing affordable higher education.” She stated, “Escalating tuition is pricing aspiring students out of college. Others are burdened with debts that will take years or decades to pay off.”
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) raised concerns about the “Government Accountability Office report that was issued at [his] request last November that showed the cost projections for the income-driven college loan repayment program are tens of billions of dollars higher than the original estimates.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) questioned Mrs. DeVos’s “qualifications for leading the nation in higher education,” noting her lack of personal and professional experience with student loans. She also raised the Department of Education’s gainful employment rule as important to ensuring career schools are not cheating students.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) highlighted the burden of federal higher education regulations and the findings of a 2015 HELP committee taskforce that identified regulations that can be invalidated by the Secretary of Education. Sen. Isakson also noted the complexity of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which Mrs. DeVos agreed to help streamline.
Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) noted that the committee Jan. 24 will vote on Mrs. DeVos’s confirmation, and that he believes she will be confirmed.