Last week, ThinkProgress reported that Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who chairs the House subcommittee on higher education, said she has “very little tolerance” for people with high amounts of student loans. The Center for Responsive Politics did some digging into her campaign donations and found that the North Carolina congresswoman is heavily-financed by the for-profit education industry:
In her first year on the [Higher Education and Workforce Training] subcommittee, Foxx picked up at least $48,668 from PACs or individuals affiliated with for-profit colleges. We counted 22 companies or trade associations in the for-profit college industry on the list of her top contributors, including: Bridgepoint Education, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, the Apollo Group (which owns the University of Phoenix) and student loan lender NelNet Inc.
As we’ve noted, for-profit schools engage in aggressive recruiting and marketing tactics to find new students, who are often left with huge amounts of student debt and bleak job prospects. Ironically, for-profit colleges are significantly more expensive than community colleges and many public universities. In other words, for-profit colleges actually encourage the large student loans for which Foxx claims she has no tolerance.
Foxx made no mention of her ties to the for-profit college’s during the radio interview. Instead, her explanation for why she had “very little tolerance” for people who have to take out large student loans to pay for college was that she didn’t have to. “I worked my way through, it took me seven years, I never borrowed a dime of money,” she said.
However, as the Quick and the Ed found, when Foxx attended the University of North Carolina in the 1960s, tuition was $87.50 per semester, or $671.30 today after adjusting for inflation. Since then, the cost of higher education has soared. A recent report showed that the cost of college tuition and fees has nearly sextupled over the last 25 years, rising far quicker than medical costs, gasoline, and other consumer items.
Rebuild The Dream started a petition calling on members of Congress to denounce Foxx’s remarks. At publication time, more than 61,000 people had signed it.