Exclusive: Hawley targets higher ed monopolies with new legislation

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyUS ban on China tech giant faces uncertainty a month out Trump judicial nominee delayed amid GOP pushback GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate MORE (R-Mo.) plans to introduce two new pieces of legislation Tuesday that target higher education monopolies, Hill.TV has exclusively learned. 

The first provides federal student aid dollars to students pursuing vocational training or education by targeting the Pell Grant system. The proposed law first opens up Pell Grants to institutions that provide job training or other alternative certifications and instructs the Department of Education to create a certification pathway for such institutions. 

“There’s no reason we should only be privileging those students who want to go to traditional 4 year institutions, we need to allow these opportunities in the form of these tax dollars to follow these students into other opportunities, other outlets that will help them get the skills they need to get the career path that’s right for them,” Hawley told Hill.TV in a phone interview. 

The second measure dramatically takes aim at student loan debt by requiring higher education institutions to pay off 50 percent of the balance of student loans for those who attended their institution and end up in default. The bill also prohibits them from increasing the cost of attendance. 

Hawley noted in the interview that the bill is “meant to address the concentration of power that has accumulated in the higher education space,” adding that “many of them have built massive endowments that has been enabled by federal tax dollars” which “they have gobbled those up and raised tuition so students have not benefited at all.” 

“It's time we address that concentration of power by creating a completely alternative pathway that students could choose that would give them options that are right for them.” 

The Missouri Senator will speak Tuesday at the National Conservativism Conference, where higher education monopolies have received some attention. Billionaire investor Peter Thiel told the assembled conference Sunday evening that certain universities, such as Stanford and Harvard, should lose their non-profit status. 

Hawley would not go so far as to agree with Thiel but said in the interview that “it's tempting.” 

—Saagar Enjeti