Rubio Breaking Ground With Education Reform Ideas

Thursday, 27 Feb 2014 01:26 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s ideas on higher education reform have the potential to both recast the way Americans think about a college degree and, in many cases, vanquish its necessity altogether, according to Forbes.

In a commentary, writer George Leef summarizes Rubio’s proposals.

The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act would provide students, and their parents, with "reliable information" about things like how much a student can realistically expect to earn with a college degree in a specific major and how much they would actually owe before and after financial aid, according to Leef.

Rubio is co-sponsoring the bill with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Another idea Rubio is floating is to base federal student loan repayments on a fixed percentage of a graduate’s income. Reef did not have high praise for this idea, opining that it could "remove the incentive that students now have to think prospectively about the cost/benefit ratio of college" as well as ultimately stick unpaid loans on taxpayers.

Rubio’s third idea, Student Investment Plans, would have college students secure school loans from private investment groups instead of automatically being entitled to one by the government. Leef characterizes this idea as a "human capital contract" by which the investment group "makes money by backing students who used their college time effectively and added to their human capital."

This proposal would cause young people to think harder about whether a college degree is worth the financial investment, according to Leef.

Lastly, Rubio has introduced the idea of setting up a federal program to certify people with "valuable skills outside of the formal educational system."

At a speech at Miami-Dade College, Leef quoted Rubio as saying:

"We could jumpstart and create private sector confidence in this practice by creating a pilot program to hire such workers in federal agencies. The agencies would identify occupations where employees could have learned skills from non-traditional sources….I suspect that we will find that in many fields, the sources of an employee’s education is far less important than many previously thought."

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