Democratic Senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Brian Schatz of Hawaii are considered two of the youngest members of the U.S. Senate, which would explain why they’re still stuck dealing with their student loan debt. It would also explain why the duo is co-sponsoring legislation geared toward lowering the cost of college by withholding federal money from institutions that are incapable of meeting affordability and quality standards.

In the past 30 years alone the college price tag has tripled, and something needs to be done to alleviate the burden put on  youth, says Murphy. “College administrators need to wake up every morning thinking about how they can make school cheaper, and that is not happening today.” He’s clearly dissatisfied with the up tick in tuition, which no longer allows higher education to be attainable by all.

While Murphy and Schatz still have a ways to go to smooth out their stance on new affordability and quality standards, what they do know for sure is that the legislation they’re proposing would launch a commission made up of students, education pros and others with a vested interest in lowering the cost of college. They’ll be charged with recommending a series of minimum standards colleges must meet in order to remain eligible for important things like federal funding for student aid.

The real kicker here is that Murphy wants to require colleges to pay back 10 percent of their federal funding for student aid that they received the previous year if they don’t end up abiding by the standards set in place for two years. And if they still don’t meet the standards for a third year, schools would be obligated to repay 20 percent of the annual federal aid funding. It’s a three strikes and you’re out policy, so if an institution failed to meet expectations once again for a fourth year, well they would no longer be eligible for federal funding.

And Murphy’s rationale for such a drastic change from the norm? ‘‘If a school is raising tuition at 8 percent a year and 50 percent of their students are defaulting on their loans, they probably shouldn’t continue to get Stafford Loans and Pell Grants.”

While this legislation is sure to be met with some strong opposition from colleges, both Murphy and Schatz believe that it’s a step in the right direction to help out students nationwide.


Image via AP/Politico