Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wants free college for Americans and he turned to an unlikely source for funding. Sanders and Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) introduced the College for All Plan last Wednesday.
This is legislation aimed to make college education free for millions of Americans. In addition, it will also provide extra support for working-class families attending minority institutions.
‘Right For All, Not Privilege For The Few’
In a statement, Sanders explained his proposal. “In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, higher education should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few.
If we are going to have the kind of standard of living that the American people deserve, we need to have the best-educated workforce in the world,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jayapal said the free college idea goes further than any proposals to cancel student debt. “While President Biden can and should immediately cancel student debt for millions of borrowers, Congress must ensure that working families never have to take out these crushing loans to receive a higher education in the first place,” Jayapal said.
Sanders and Jayapal filed their proposal amid a fierce debate over moves to cancel student loan debt. President Joe Biden included student debt cancellation as a platform during his campaign last year.
While he initially limited the cancellation to $10,000 in federal debt per borrower, he directed his Education secretary to study loan forgiveness of up to $50,000. Americans currently owe more than $1.7 trillion in student loan debt. Of this amount, 93% is guaranteed by the federal government.
Free College For All Plan
The plan would provide tuition-free education for all students attending community colleges and public trade schools. Students from families earning below $125,000 annually won’t need to pay tuition for public four-year colleges and universities.
This also includes public and private historically Black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions. In addition, the bill will establish an annual $10 billion federal investment to provide ongoing support to students at underfunded institutions.
The bill also doubles the maximum Pell Grant award from $6,495 to $12,990 for the 2021-22 school year. It also guarantees that current Dreamers can avail of the grant.
Under the US Dream Act, Dreamers are students who arrived in the US at age 15 or younger at least five years before the date of the bill’s enactment and who have maintained good moral character. In addition, the bill allows Pell Grant recipients to use the money for living arrangements and other non-tuition expenses.
Wall Street To Pay for All This
“It is absolutely unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of bright young Americans do not get a higher education each year, not because they are unqualified, but because their family does not have enough money,” said Sanders.
To pay for this, Sanders and Jayapa hope that the federal government will shoulder 75% of the cost of free college and states pay for the remainder. In the event of an economic downturn, the federal government’s share would increase to 90%.
As to how the government can afford to pay for this, Sanders proposes In addition, the bill proposes a financial transaction tax on Wall Street, as in previous plans put forth by Sanders and others.
The Tax on Wall Street Speculation Act will charge a 0.5% tax on stock trades, a 0.1% fee on bond trades, and a 0.005% fee on derivative transactions. Together, these taxes can raise up to $2.4 trillion over the next decade, according to a summary of the bill.
Many already voiced their displeasure at this tax. Business groups warned imposing this taxation can harm middle-class Americans.
Paying It Forward
Sanders thinks it’s now time for Wall Street to pay it forward. “Thirteen years ago, the middle class bailed out Wall Street during their time of need, even as the middle class was struggling.
Now, it is Wall Street’s turn to rebuild the struggling middle class by paying a modest financial transactions tax to make sure that everyone in America who wants to get a higher education can do so without going into debt,” the bill stated.
Watch the CNBC news video reporting on a new proposal from progressive lawmakers that makes Wall Street pay for free college:
Do you agree with Senator Sanders's proposal for free college for Americans? Do you think Wall Street will agree to pay for this via additional taxes?
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