ALBANY — Sen. Chuck Schumer’s Republican opponent, Wendy Long, released plans on Wednesday to address New York’s ballooning college debt by phasing out federal student loans.
Long seized on a state comptroller report released Tuesday that found the total student loan debt in New York increased to $82 billion in 2015 from $39 billion in 2005.
“The underlying problem, of course, is the huge federal subsidies being shoveled at higher education,” she said in a release. “They are like shoveling coals onto a fire, fueling higher tuition rates into what has now become a raging bonfire.”
Long outlined a three-prong plan to reduce that debt, starting with passing a law requiring colleges to refund students and recent grads any tuition that exceeded 1996 rates, adjusted for inflation. She said universities can trim their budget and tap their endowments to offset the loss of tuition money.
“Maybe they can close down a few ‘safe spaces’ or lose some of the overpaid administrators who add nothing to their educational mission,” she said.
Her plan would revoke all federal funds, including nonprofit status, for schools that do not roll back tuition to 1996 rates.
Then, under Long’s plan, she would end federal student loan programs.
“Markets for anything do not operate when they are artificially skewed and subsidized,” she said. “The cost of a college degree has to reflect its real value in the marketplace.”
A poll conducted by the Siena College Research Institute released Tuesday found Schumer leading Long 69 percent to 23 percent. Long lost a Senate race in 2012 to Kirsten Gillibrand, who received 72.2 percent of the vote.