On Tuesday, the United States Senate narrowly confirmed Betsy DeVos as the new Secretary of Education.
Her confirmation comes after a historic, tie-breaking vote made by Vice President Mike Pence, despite Democrats’ tireless efforts to thwart her appointment.
Here’s a breakdown of what DeVos potentially stands for as America’s new education secretary, what happened during her confirmation process, and what this all means going forward.
1. She supports privatizing education in America
A billionaire philanthropist, DeVos’s experience is primarily in the private sector. A lifelong Republican, she served as the chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party and runs a charitable organization with her husband.
One of the focal points of her advocacy efforts has been around school choice and promoting voucher programs for private schools. Her nomination, and now her confirmation, highlights President Donald Trump’s focus on the privatization of education.
Public school advocates and teacher unions have also campaigned aggressively against DeVos, saying she is an enemy to public schools.
What’s more, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, said DeVos had elevated for-profit schools without considering the potential harm to public schools.
“We believe that all children have a right to a quality public education, and we fear that Betsy DeVos’ relentless advocacy of charter schools and vouchers betrays these principles,” said Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan in a statement following DeVos’s nomination.
2. She lacks experience with student loans
During the confirmation hearings, critics made it clear they felt DeVos was grossly unprepared to deal with the federal student loan system and the current student loan debt crisis.
Throughout questioning, DeVos avoided providing specifics about her plans for student loans. She did not discuss what to do with Public Service Loan Forgiveness, free college initiatives, or providing assistance for low-income students.
Trump’s proposal for student loans is a dramatic departure from the current system. And since both Trump and Pence campaigned heavily for DeVos, it’s safe to assume that DeVos supports Trump’s plans.
3. She is very polarizing as education secretary
In the weeks since the first confirmation hearing for Devos, Senate Democrats have continuously highlighted her inexperience as grounds for her rejection.
In a final attempt to keep her from securing the confirmation, Democrats held an all-night debate Monday into Tuesday in the Senate. The goal was to sway just one more voter in their favor to vote against DeVos.
Critics site her advocacy for school choice and DeVos’ criticisms of the public school system as their chief concerns. They also point out that DeVos has no prior experience with managing a school, teaching, banking, or managing student loans.
4. She needed a historic vote in the Senate for confirmation
All 48 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate voted against DeVos’ appointment.
Two Senate Republicans – Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine – went against party lines and also voted against DeVos. They cited concerns about her focus on charter schools undermining public education.
The remaining 50 Republicans voted to confirm her, leading to a historic 50-50 tie.
That’s when Vice President Mike Pence cast his vote to break the tie, confirming DeVos as Secretary of Education. It is the first time in history the Senate needed a Vice President’s vote to break a tie to confirm a Cabinet nominee. And it is the first time that a Vice President cast a tie-breaking vote in nine years.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) quickly condemned the confirmation.
“President Trump’s swamp got a new billionaire,” said the DNC in a statement earlier today. “Millions of teachers, parents, and students could not have made their opposition to Betsy DeVos’ confirmation any clearer – they do not want someone whose only education experience is dismantling public schools.”
What’s next for Betsy DeVos?
DeVos’ confirmation is a bold move. She is now responsible for overseeing $127 billion in annual federal student loans and the Pell Grant program, despite having no higher education or financial management experience.
Her specific views on the student loan system are still unknown. But based on her advocacy efforts and what we learned during the confirmation hearings, it is likely that she will push for further privatization and school choice.
For more information on Trump and his policies, check out this article on what his proposed overhaul of Dodd-Frank regulations means for your finances.
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
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3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.49% effective March 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
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|3.00% – 9.74%6||Undergrad & Graduate|