New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) spoke about student debt, school choice and teacher accountability at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, on Thursday. Christie is expected to announce a presidential run soon. After delivering an account on how his father, an excellent student who was accepted at Columbia University, enlisted in the army instead because he couldn’t afford the tuition, Christie said debt-free college was not the answer.
Christie said students shouldn’t expect to receive a degree that will significantly improve their earnings for nothing, but he mixed more conservative rhetoric with an acknowledgement that students should be able to receive some assistance.
He cited his father’s choice to attend Rutgers University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting after six years of both attending school and continuing to work, as the reason his father was able to get a career working on Wall Street for 40 years. Christie’s father attended through the G.I. bill.
Although Christie said Congress should “properly fund and expand” student aid programs, he didn’t give any specific figures. The governor also held up Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s (R) Student Debt Reduction Organization tax credits idea as a model for financing low-income students’ education. Branstad’s tax credit would give taxpayers, including companies, the ability to give money to student debt reduction organizations and receive tax credits.
Christie also mentioned income share agreements, which allow students to essentially issue stock in themselves. It allows people to invest in college students, or to “own human capital contracts,” which means that an investor could pay a portion of the student’s tuition to attend college in exchange for that student giving the investor a certain percentage of their income for so many years.