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(NewsNation) — During the fourth Republican presidential debate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested a solution to the student loan crisis could be to shift the burden of backing loans from the government to universities.
DeSantis said he doesn’t want taxpayers footing the bill and said he will stop incentivizing “useless degrees” by making universities responsible for the loans their students accrue.
“I don’t support having a truck driver having to pay a student loan for someone that got a degree in gender studies,” he said during the debate hosted by NewsNation. “These student loans are going to be backed by the universities because they need to have an incentive to produce gainful employment for people.
DeSantis criticized the system where students amass significant debt pursuing degrees that may not lead to lucrative careers.
“They need to have an incentive to produce gainful employment for people,” DeSantis said, adding that the state of Florida has doubled down on apprenticeships.
“Don’t let anybody tell you that the only way you can be successful is through a four-year Brick and Ivy degree,” DeSantis said.
While DeSantis received credit for addressing a growing issue, some experts, including former Goldman Sachs analyst Trish Regan, expressed concerns about the complexity of the proposal.
Regan joined “On Balance With Leland Vittert” to discuss DeSantis’ proposal, saying, “Not that it won’t work, it is just a whole lot more complex.”
Regan acknowledged the need for universities to have “skin in the game” but highlighted the importance of maintaining diversity in academic pursuits.
“I like what he’s (DeSantis) saying, in essence, but I also just worry,” she siad. “But I do worry that you want some diversity in the student body in the subjects that they study.”
“You don’t want everybody to get an economics degree or be a business major or engineering major,” she continued. “We need a lot of them. But you need the musicians, you need the artists, you need the philosophers. So you’ve got to come up with some kind of construct.”
Regan pointed out the historical evolution of the student loan system, originating in the 1960s, and how it has transformed into what some now see as a flawed model.
“Basically, they’ve given these kids blank checks, go buy whatever you want, right? If somebody gives you a blank check to buy a house, like you don’t think that that’s gonna cause the price of the house to go up all the houses to go up,” she said.
Regan also emphasized the necessity of containing costs and reforming the entire system.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, The five institutions with the largest endowments at the end of fiscal year 2021 were Harvard University ($53 billion), Yale University ($42 billion), The University of Texas System Office ($40 billion), Stanford University ($38 billion), and Princeton University ($37 billion).
Chief Washington anchor Leland Vittert said American taxpayers are in effect underwriting the universities.
“Why not put the universities on the hook and say, ‘Look, if you want all these tax breaks, then you’ve got to fund the music majors and everybody else'” Vittert asked.
Regan called it a “fair idea,” but only “if we put those requirements around them.”
“I think that we need to rehaul this entire system,” she said. “I appreciate what he’s saying. I don’t think it’s perfect. I think it’s one part of the solution, finding a way for schools to have some more skin in the game. also finding a way to contain these costs.”