July 6, 2023 – Future of Work

In case you missed it: Ryan Stowers on reducing student debt and honoring the dignity of every learner


The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled President Joe Biden’s student debt forgiveness program unconstitutional. The White House and federal lawmakers are now exploring other ways to help borrowers.

But focusing on student debt alone will not solve the college cost crisis — and it will not help people discover their unique interests and aptitudes, says Charles Koch Foundation Executive Director Ryan Stowers in a new op-ed at RealClearEducation. The country needs innovation to bring down postsecondary education’s price tag and unlock the potential of every learner. 

Stowers writes:

“We cannot focus only on the small fraction of Americans who go to a college or university. Higher education leaders, employers, philanthropists, and lawmakers need to improve opportunity for all learners by taking an all-of-the above approach that supports multiple pathways, from college to employer-based upskilling programs. … By building new and interesting options that give individuals the opportunity to find a program or pursuit that best fits their interests and talent, [we] respect the dignity of every learner.”

Stowers also argues for innovative financing models that ensure both the student and the institution they attend are responsible for outcomes. He says:

“Matched education savings plans, skills savings accounts, income-share agreements, and outcomes-based loans can narrow opportunity gaps by removing financial barriers to post-secondary education. By asking schools or programs to undertake some of the financial risk, these models ensure educators bear some of the responsibility if their learners do not finish.”

Read the full op-ed here.