Progressive Senator Bernie Sanders is moving forward on one of his most popular campaign platforms; free college tuition for all American students. Along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Calif.), Sanders is introducing the “College for All” act, which would abolish college tuition fees at all four-year universities for students from families who make less than $125,000 per year. The act would make community college tuition-free as well.
Who foots the bill?
Under the plan, the U.S. government would subsidize the tuition of all public colleges and universities at 67 percent while state and tribal governments would be asked to pay the rest.
The $600B legislation would be funded by a tax on Wall Street speculators. According to Bernie Sanders’ website,
The cost of this $75B a year plan is fully paid for by imposing a tax of a fraction of a percent on Wall Street speculators who nearly destroyed the economy seven years ago.
If the taxpayers of this country could bailout Wall Street in 2008, we can make public colleges and university tuition free and debt free throughout the country.
The College for All act would also stop the federal government from raking in student loan money by instead funneling excess revenues into Pell Grants. Students would be able to refinance their loans at lower rates and new students would not pay an interest rate over 1.88 percent.
Opposition to the bill all but certain
In March, President Trump dialed back on former President Obama’s provision that student loan companies can’t charge excessive fees to borrower accounts that are in default.
Trump’s budget cuts on education and fee hikes on student loan borrowers sets the stage for a difficult battle. However, supporters of the bill have a reason to be somewhat optimistic as similar bills introduced to congress had zero co-sponsors.
Currently, five Senators are currently co-sponsoring the new bill: Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D- Conn) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) as well as 14 members of the House of Representatives.
Sanders is fully aware of the challenges the act will face under the Trump administration. But his plan is to get Americans involved in fighting for change,
Our job is to bring forward a progressive agenda. We can win this fight when millions of Americans stand up and demand this legislation. – Sanders
A very daunting reality
Currently, about 44 million U.S. student loan borrowers are in debt, owing more than $1.3 trillion to the federal government. In a recent Forbes article, writer Zack Friedman refers to the phenomenon as a crisis, stating that,
Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category – behind only mortgage debt – and higher than both credit cards and auto loans.
While the College for All act may have a tough road ahead of it, Sanders claims that he will,
fight to make sure that every American who studies hard in school can go to college regardless of how much money their parents make and without going deeply into debt.