As long as the GOP relies on widespread ignorance in order for its continued survival, then of course things like this will happen. Scholarship is about the search for knowledge and truth, but the GOP’s messaging is based on fear and lies.
Given that, the question is simply what higher education can do to counter this. Is it at all feasible for universities to make graduate school tuition free? The stipend could still depend on participation in assistanships and research fellowships, but the baseline tuition could be free for anyone who qualifies for admission to the school, so that there isn’t all this business about the university paying itself the student’s tuition.