Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, has been making quite the impression during her confirmation hearings—and most of it is not positive.
While DeVos has made some unexpected statements (such as suggesting that elementary schools might need guns in case of a grizzly bear attack), some of her biggest missteps has come when speaking about student loan debt.
After she told the Senate Committee that student loan debt had grown 980 percent during the Obama administration, she was immediately challenged by Senator Al Franken of Minnesota—and he was right to question it. In fact, outstanding student debt grew about 100 percent between the third quarter of 2008 and the third quarter of 2016. Still high, but nowhere near DeVos’s claim.
Franken wasn’t the only one to question the nominee’s experience. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts released a letter on January 9 expressing concern for DeVos’s overall lack of experience in higher education.
During the hearing, Warren pointed out that DeVos has no personal experience with student loans, which could be a major detriment to Americans saddled with student debt. In her letter, Warren wrote that she and President-elect Trump are in agreement that “student loan debt should not be ‘an albatross around [the necks of students]’ for the rest of their lives.”
With that in mind, Warren asked if DeVos would be willing to support and enforce a new regulation called gainful employment. The controversial law, which led to a court battle started by the for-profit college industry, requires that graduates spend no more than 20 percent of their discretionary income (or 8 percent of their annual salary) repaying student loans.
DeVos simply replied that she would review the rules, which didn’t sit well with Warren.
“If confirmed, you will be the cop on the beat and if you can’t commit to use the tools that are already available to you in the Department of Education, I don’t see how you can be the Secretary of Education,” said Warren.