Will the next Virginia governor put students first—or the student loan industry?

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By Amanda Litvinov

In his bid to become the next governor of Virginia, Republican Ed Gillespie is attempting to connect with voters by saying, “special interests have too much sway” in the state capitol.

What Gillespie doesn’t mention is the fact that he made millions as a corporate lobbyist in Washington, D.C., representing industries that routinely put profits over people, including the student loan industry.

His firm, Quinn, Gillespie & Associates, lobbied members of Congress on behalf of the student loan industry as it frantically fought efforts in 2007 in the House and Senate to lower student loan interest rates and encourage students to apply for federal loans before turning to private lenders.

Lobbying disclosure forms show that Ed Gillespie was a registered lobbyist for the student loan administration company Nelnet and for Bank of America. His firm contacted members of the House and Senate as well as the Executive Office of the President on issues related to “student loans/budget.”

Reductions in loan interest rates help students, but cut into lenders’ profits.

The role Gillespie played in helping the student loan industry put profits before students is just one of the things that should concern Virginia voters.

Ed Gillespie (left) lobbied to protect profits for the student loan industry; Ralph Northam (right) has proposed a Student Borrower’s Bill of rights that adds protections for students.

As we have previously covered on EdVotes, Gillespie accepted a major campaign contribution—over $100,000—from the DeVos family. His K-12 education plan revolves around vastly expanding private school vouchers, which drain scarce funding for public schools. It is the very agenda that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and President Trump are pushing at the federal level.

Ralph Northam opposes vouchers.

Northam’s higher education plan, released last week, commits to increasing state support for public universities and colleges to control tuition costs. He would also establish a Student Borrower’s Bill of Rights that would increase oversight of lenders, and increase transparency for students and their families.

Learn more about Northam’s higher education and K-12 education plans.

“Every Virginian deserves access to a high quality, affordable education after high school, so he or she can succeed in the New Virginia Economy,” said Northam in a statement.

“If I am able to leave one legacy as governor, I want it to be expanding access to quality public education. Every young person in Virginia should have a shot at a promising future, and I won’t stop working until we ensure they get it.”

Reader Comments

  1. It is short-sighted to underfund public education. Virginia needs a well-educated, well-prepared work force for the healthiest economy going forward. Gillespie will work for his big donors like DeVos family, who make money off privatized education–sickening

  2. Right on Dr. Northam!!

    Gillespie & DeVos have disgusting interests in the profitability of education which are totally un-American. They really are brazen to publicly endorse efforts to benefit their own interests at the detriment of public education.

  3. The student loan industry are like illegal loan sharks who would charge over 100% interest rates and break your knees if you didn’t pay it. Loan predators preying on the young. This should be illegal.

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