Driving Down the Cost of Higher Education

Making College More Affordable Makes it More Accessible

Sen. Thune has worked to reverse the rising price of higher education for South Dakota students and families.

Highlights of Sen. Thune’s Commitment to Improving Higher Education:

  • Introduced Legislation to Help Employers Assist Employees to Pay Down Student Debt:
    • The bipartisan Employer Participation in Refinancing Act would allow companies to pay pre-tax benefits to assist employees with loan repayment, incentivizing workers to refinance loan debt at lower interest rates with private lenders.
    • Currently, the IRS’ Employer Education Assistance Program only allows employers to contribute pre-tax earnings to help employees finance continued education, but does not allow relief for individuals who already have incurred student loan debt.
    • Sen. Thune’s bill would provide a new tool to help employers recruit and retain quality employees by allowing them to help qualified employees repay student loans with pre-tax dollars.
  • Defended the Federal Perkins Loan Program:
    • Sen. Thune helped preserve the important program, which was set to expire in 2015.
    • This ensured continued benefits for approximately 4,000 South Dakota students, who can borrow up to $5,500 a year for a total of $27,000 as an undergraduate.
  • Introduced Legislation to Eliminate an ObamaCare Requirement Increasing Student Tuition Rates:
    • Sen. Thune introduced legislation to exempt colleges and universities from ObamaCare’s Employer Mandate, a requirement that is increasing health care costs for schools and universities that are likely being passed on to students through higher tuition rates.