Rep. Mike Castle on Rising Cost of College

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STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: Congress taking colleges to school over outrageous tuition fees — the House and Senate just passing a bill aimed at shaming schools into keeping costs down. The most expensive schools and the ones bumping tuition the most will get posted online.

The president is expected to sign it. My guest next is behind it. Congressman Mike Castle is a Republican from Delaware.

Congressman, good to have you with us. Thanks for being here, sir.

REP. MIKE CASTLE, R-DEL.: Thank you very much, Stuart.

VARNEY: Now, sir, I have read this bill. And it includes, for example, making textbook costs more manageable, streamlining paperwork, increasing aid for veterans. It improves safety on campuses. Nowhere does it spell out where colleges will be pushed into — indeed, forced — to lower the cost. It does not say that anywhere, does it?

CASTLE: Well, no, it really does not, and I wish we could, but I am not sure we're allowed to do that. We are dealing with private institutions. You're dealing with the state-supported institutions. And we may not have that kind of jurisdiction.

But it does introduce an element of transparency. As you pointed out, people will understand better where these costs are coming from. And, first of all, I agree with you completely. I believe that we need to drive down the cost — or at least the rate of increase of the costs of higher education. It has been higher, even, than health care in this country. And that's a tremendous problem.

VARNEY: I think I am trying to voice — I think I am trying to voice the frustration of many parents, like myself, who have consistently...

CASTLE: Absolutely.

VARNEY: ... seen the cost of college tuition go up well above the rate of inflation, and never, ever any kind of cost-cutting moves on the part of colleges, always more and more government and taxpayer subsidies for these very high-priced colleges.

I mean, I am trying to voice some frustration here. I'm sorry to say it, sir.

CASTLE: Well...

VARNEY: I do not think your bill approaches this.

CASTLE: I am — I'm more frustrated than you are, probably. I have been dealing with this problem for about 10 years now, trying to drive down these costs.

I mean, you look at the salaries, you look at some of the other costs that are in colleges now, it is just horrendous. And it is extraordinarily expensive. And, always, it's a handout, saying, we need more money in the form of Pell Grants. We need more federal dollars. We need more state dollars. We need more tuition. And that is a problem.

And I believe the public needs to stand up to this. I believe we in Congress do. I think this legislation is a decent step forward. It does address textbooks. It does address transparency and a few other issues, but there — there's all kinds of problems out there. There are for-profit institutions and other areas.

VARNEY: Well, the attempt to shame them, I mean, tell everybody who is raising costs the most, I think that is a very good idea.

Congressman Mike Castle, thanks very much for joining us, sir. Appreciate it.

CASTLE: Thank you very much.

VARNEY: All right, sir.

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