DeVos knocks free college push as ‘socialist takeover of higher education’

Bonnie Cash

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos knocked the push for free college as a “socialist takeover of higher education” during an online conference Tuesday.

DeVos criticized the push during the Federal Student Aid office’s virtual conference, cautioning that a free college program would ruin the American economy. Her comments regarding the “truly insidious notion of government gift giving” come as President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration looms 50 days away.

“We’ve heard shrill calls to cancel, to forgive, to make it all free,” she said during the conference. “Any innocuous label out there can’t obfuscate what it really is: wrong. The campaign for free college is a matter of total government control.”

“Make no mistake: It is a socialist takeover of higher education,” she continued. “Now, depending on your personal politics, some of you might not find that notion as scary as I do. But mark my words: None of you will like the way it will work.”

The secretary of education has previously voiced her disapproval for the movement and argues that a free college program would put the financial burden on taxpayers, including two-thirds of Americans who do not attend college.

She also asserted that college counselors would instead become “rationers” who will be “forced to merely oversee rationing of state-approved higher education options.”

“If the politicians proposing free college today get their way, just watch our colleges and universities begin to resemble a failing K-12 school, with the customer service of the DMV to boot,” she said during the conference. 

Biden has said he wants to have public colleges and universities offer free tuition for families that make less than $125,000 per year, in addition to bolstering loan forgiveness programs. The president-elect has also supported ideas to eliminate $10,000 in federal student debt for all borrowers in a COVID-19 relief measure, The Associated Press reported

The president-elect’s plan was transformed from progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) free college proposal.

DeVos reiterated her previous comments to Sanders about free college during the conference, saying “nothing is truly free.”

“Somebody, somewhere pays the bill,” she said. “And the bill is coming due. What we do next in education policy and in public policy writ large will either break our already fragile economy, or it will unleash an age of achievement and prosperity the likes of which we’ve never seen.”

The secretary of Education did not mention whether the Trump administration’s pause of student payments through the end of December would be extended. 

Tags Bernie Sanders Betsy DeVos College Department of Education Federal Student Aid free college Higher education Joe Biden Office of Federal Student Aid Secretary of Education

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