It is hard to understand how Capitol Technology University’s (CTU) technology plan, announced earlier this month, has made it to the floor of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
In the committee’s current version, the bill is still called the “DCCC Technology Reform Act of 2018”.
“It is unclear if the legislation has made its way to the House floor,” reads a spokesperson for CTU, who did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.
The spokesperson did confirm that the bill has made the committee “a priority” of the tech sector in the past.
CTU’s plan, which would make it easier for students to receive funding from the US Government’s Federal Technology Loan Guarantee Program (FTGL), is one of several pieces of legislation that are part of a broader package of legislation to help students, particularly those in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, get access to higher education.
CTU is not alone in this fight.
A handful of other tech startups, including TechStars and Udacity, are working with Congress to push for higher-quality education through technology.
While TechStars is currently in the process of filing the necessary paperwork to get access, Udacity is also working to raise capital through crowdfunding and partnering with several companies.
The companies have so far raised $5 million from investors to support their projects, including $2.5 million to TechStars through a crowdfunding campaign.
In an interview with Ars, TechStars founder Ryan Lutz said that the company’s mission is to create a platform for startups to reach their potential by building the tools necessary to do so.
“We are trying to build the platform to make education more accessible for students, so they can actually use the tools they need to get into a STEM [science, tech, engineering and mathematics] field,” he said.
“It is a very important part of our mission to help people access a STEM education.”
Lutz is an engineer by trade, and he says the goal is to make it as easy as possible for students and their families to access the STEM education that they need.
In an interview, Techstars CEO Daniel Breslin said that TechStars has “made it very clear that we want to help with the funding for the students in our program and for our other projects, as well as to do the research to make sure we have a great STEM experience.
We believe we have an excellent team in place who are dedicated to delivering on our mission.”
CTUs plan, meanwhile, is not only ambitious, it is also deeply concerning.
It is a proposal that, if passed by Congress, would not only force universities to provide students with a degree from a higher-ranked institution, but also give them access to a range of additional benefits from federal grants to loans, grants, and tax credits.
To support the idea of higher education in general, CTUs own website includes a section titled “Education for the 21st Century” that says that the goal of the project is “to enable students to better pursue their education and find a career, to advance their career, and to become financially independent and self-sufficient.”
“The goal of our plan is to help individuals and families, as the average American, understand what they need and can afford to pay for in order to achieve a better quality of life and to provide for themselves and their family in a way that is financially sustainable,” the CTUs site continues.
“We want to build a better future for all Americans, but we are also focused on empowering and supporting the students who will help us reach our mission of improving the quality of our lives.”
To be clear, this plan is not going to bring the US government a lot of benefits.
The bill would make the Federal TSLG program the primary source of funding for students.
Furthermore, it would force universities that want to be eligible for the FTGL to provide funding through the FTTG program as well.
In a statement, CTU said that its goal is “not to replace the FTL, which is a proven model that has proven successful for students in STEM fields across the United States and the world.
We are focused on working to help these students receive their higher education.”
Instead, the plan is likely to do much more harm to students.
“Our technology plan is a direct assault on the students it is supposed to serve,” said Dan Kahan, senior policy counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology.
“This legislation is clearly designed to reward the companies that make money off of the taxpayer-funded loan guarantees that students can’t access through their traditional sources of funding.
The plan also fails to acknowledge that it is only the government that provides the money, not the companies themselves.
The idea that government-funded loans are the best way to help low-income students get a degree is just plain wrong.”