Democrats unveil plan for tuition-free college amid student debt crisis


As President Biden assesses the executive’s action to cancel up to $ 50,000 in student loans for each borrower, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington introduce new legislation on Wednesday that they say they say would help cope with the soaring costs of higher education.

If passed, the College for All Act would make community colleges and trade schools tuition-free for all students. It would also make public four-year colleges and universities as well as public non-profit institutions serving minorities – such as historically black colleges and universities – free tuition for all students from families earning less than 125,000. dollars per year.

“If we are to have the kind of standard of living that the American people deserve, we have to have the best educated workforce in the world,” said Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, in a statement. “It is absolutely unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of bright young Americans do not get a higher education every year, not because they are not qualified, but because their families do not have enough money.”

The proposal comes as some Democratic lawmakers have urged the president, who originally backed $ 10,000 in student loan relief, to write off up to $ 50,000 in student debt. Over 44 million Americans are burdened with student loan debt and total debt topped $ 1.7 trillion last year. Supporters argue the move would relieve millions of Americans struggling with debt and spur economic growth. Critics question the fairness of the decision and claim it fails to address the underlying high costs of the college.

The new proposal would double Pell’s maximum federal grant to $ 12,990, from $ 6,495 currently, and allow students to use the money to cover other college-related costs like housing and books. The grant amount would also be linked to inflation and extended to eligible Dreamers, people who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

Their proposal would also triple federal funding for programs that help identify and provide services to students from disadvantaged backgrounds – low-income students, first-generation students, or people with disabilities. That would double the money for Gear UP, the grant program that helps prepare low-income students for college.

To make these tuition free, the federal government would cover 75% of the tuition and fees while the states would pay the remaining 25%. The plan would also increase the federal government’s share to 90% in the event of an economic downturn.

In an effort to pay off the proposal, Sanders will also reintroduce a law on Wednesday that imposes a tax on transactions in 0.5% stocks, 0.1% bonds and 0.005% derivatives. According to the senator, the plan would raise up to $ 2.4 trillion over 10 years. Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California is set to reintroduce tax legislation in the House.

The College for All law has been approved by at least eight unions and more than two dozen national organizations, including progressive organizations such as Justice Democrats and MoveOn.

“A successful transition to adulthood is an essential measure of the well-being of children and youth,” said Rev. Starsky Wilson, President and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund, in a statement supporting the initiative. “With 6 in 10 American jobs requiring education beyond high school, our children will not thrive without these doors being wide open.

The legislation reflects part of Mr. Biden’s educational platform on the election campaign. During the election, he called for two years of study at community colleges and other trade schools to be free and for public colleges and universities to be free for families earning less than $ 125,000. Its platform also included the doubling of Pell grants. But the plan still faces a skyrocket in Congress, including how it will be paid, with Democrats holding a slim House majority and the Senate split 50-50.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Senators Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, and Rev. Raphael Warnock, of Georgia, sent a letter to Secretary Miguel Cardona urging the Department of Education to remove federal borrowers from students from default after that COVID relief measures halted payments and interest amid the pandemic. .

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