Steil Brings Attention to Rising Costs of Education, Wisconsin Successes at Financial Services Committee Hearing

September 10, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—At today’s House Financial Services Committee hearing, Bryan Steil outlined the underlying problems of rising higher education costs and the need to redirect federal efforts to make education affordable for students and parents.

Steil’s remarks, in part:

“I appreciate you [Chairwoman Waters and Ranking Member McHenry] calling today’s hearing to highlight what is a really serious issue. We have a 1.5 trillion-dollar student loan problem. Today’s hearing though, I think, digs into the false premise as to where the problem is.

“The problem is in the underlying cost of the education product that is driving students into debt. Misdirection works really well in comedy, but it is not terribly effective at actually solving what is a really serious problem.

“When I was on the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, what we did to address the student debt issue is freeze the cost of tuition. We froze it dollar for dollar and that allowed the cost of tuition to become more affordable for students in the state of Wisconsin.

“It had a direct impact on the total student loans students were taking out, and actually allowed students to come out with less debt than if we just casually increased the cost of tuition. So a real solution, to a real problem.

“We see states go around and sue ‘big bad corporations’ because where you can’t legislate and get the cost under control of the underlying product in the first place, you litigate. If you can’t legislate, you litigate. And what we need to do is actually have a real, honest conversation about what the underlying cost of the product is, that is driving students into debt in the first place…

“…The underlying problem is the folks that are running these universities, whether or not they are state legislators, state senators, governors, board or regents, they need to come in and address the underlying problem which is the rising cost of tuition and fees, let alone as you get in to housing and other issues.

“What we did in Wisconsin was actually put forth a real program that addressed the problem, driving down the underlying cost of tuition and bringing down the debt level. It is darn effective.

“And areas where states continue to see their costs going up, where they can’t legislate, or they can’t put policies in place that actually help students be able to live out the American dream, we litigate. We sue all these companies. We misdirect. We make a bunch of noise. It is not effective. It is pretty darn frustrating, and I yield back the remainder of my time.”

On Background:

Prior to being elected to Congress, Steil was appointed by former Governor Scott Walker and unanimously confirmed to serve on the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents. As a Regent, Steil addressed the needs of students while overseeing the 26 UW system campuses, their 170,000 students, and a six-billion-dollar budget. Bryan supported initiatives that froze tuition and increased access to quality, affordable education.