Colleges concealing soaring costs of attendance from applicants, government report finds

FIRST ON FOX: A government report found that colleges are concealing their soaring costs of attendance from applicants as the Biden administration seeks to give billions of dollars in their student loan handout.

Members of the House Education and Labor Committee asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review information on how schools are informing students about college costs and financial aid.

The GAO compiled financial aid offers from 176 colleges as a national representative sample and compared them to best practice standards from the Department of Education and a commission of 22 federal agencies.

SEN. WARNOCK WOOS STUDENT VOTES TRUMPETING BIDEN’S COLLEGE DEBT FORGIVENESS, WHICH IS STILL TIED UP IN COURT

McClain’s bill would require colleges and universities to provide students with aid offers that show the total cost of attendance, the amount of aid available to cover the costs, and any out-of-pocket differences.
((Screengrab/ Tucker Carlson Tonight))

In its findings, the GAO reported that 55 percent of colleges do not itemize key direct and indirect costs nor provide a total cost of attendance with said key costs.

Additionally, 91 percent of the colleges included in the sample don’t estimate the net price by subtracting only gift aid from key costs, both direct and indirect.

The report also included several examples of schools’ underestimated costs, including a school that underestimated their net prices by tens of thousands of dollars, including one institution that underestimated their cost by over $47,000.

Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., who sits on the House Education and Labor Committee, is introducing a bill to address the issue, telling Fox News Digital that students “deserve transparency when it comes to the financial burdens of higher education, and colleges have no excuse for not providing it.”

"The GAO report shows shocking proof of colleges underestimating costs by tens of thousands of dollars, leaving students blindsided with the price tag," Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., told Fox News Digital.

“The GAO report shows shocking proof of colleges underestimating costs by tens of thousands of dollars, leaving students blindsided with the price tag,” Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., told Fox News Digital.
(Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

“The GAO report shows shocking proof of colleges underestimating costs by tens of thousands of dollars, leaving students blindsided with the price tag,”  McClain told Fox News Digital.

“I am disgusted at the findings of this report, and I will not allow it to go unanswered. Students should never be responsible for footing a bill they don’t even know exists,” she continued.

McClain’s bill would require colleges and universities to provide students with aid offers that show the total cost of attendance, the amount of aid available to cover the costs, and any out-of-pocket differences.

Additionally, institutions would be required to inform students how they can opt out of any direct costs that are not required for attendance. 

Students would also be informed about their right to financial aid for indirect costs, such as food, housing, and other similar costs, and be offered to see a second aid offer to see how these costs may be covered, as well.

McClain’s bill comes as the Biden administration’s multi-billion-dollar plan to forgive student debt is held up in federal court.

Last month, the coalition of states challenging President Biden's $400 billion student loan handout filed their written response to the U.S. Supreme Court after the government sought to have the lawsuit thrown out.

Last month, the coalition of states challenging President Biden’s $400 billion student loan handout filed their written response to the U.S. Supreme Court after the government sought to have the lawsuit thrown out.
(Fox News Digital/Lisa Bennatan)

Last month, the coalition of states challenging President Biden’s $400 billion student loan handout filed their written response to the U.S. Supreme Court after the government sought to have the lawsuit thrown out.

In court documents filed in late November, Nebraska and five other states argue that Biden’s invocation of a national emergency to forgive a portion of federal student loan debt is an “unlawful” abuse of the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act of 2003. The response comes after the Biden administration last week filed its emergency request with the Supreme Court to vacate a federal appeals court’s injunction blocking the student loan forgiveness program from taking effect.

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“The Act requires a real connection to a national emergency. But the Department’s reliance on the COVID-19 pandemic is a pretext to mask the President’s true goal of fulfilling his campaign promise to erase student-loan debt,” the states wrote in their response. 

“Hiding the real motive, the agency attempts to connect the Cancellation to the pandemic by citing current economic conditions supposedly caused by COVID-19. But those conditions are not directly attributable to the pandemic, so the Department has failed to adequately link the Cancellation to a national emergency,” they said.

Fox News Digital’s Chris Pandolfo, Bill Mears, and Shannon Bream contributed reporting.

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