WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced legislation Wednesday that would make college tuition-free for many Americans.
The College for All Act would guarantee tuition-free community college for all students and allow students from families earning $125,000 a year to attend public universities tuition-free and debt-free.
The bill would also allow students from families in that income bracket to attend Historically Black Colleges and other institutions serving people of color tuition-free and debt-free. The measure would also make an annual $10 billion federal investment to cover student support programs at those institutions.
Additionally, the bill would double the maximum Pell Grant to $12,990, allow students to use the money to cover living and non-tuition expenses, and expand grant eligibility to Dreamers.
The sponsors of the bill say it would be paid for by the Tax on Wall Street Speculation Act, which was also introduced by Sanders on Wednesday. It would put a 0.5% tax on stock trades, a 0.1% fee on bonds, and a 0.005% fee on derivatives. That tax would raise up to $2.4 trillion over the next decade, according to a press release from Sanders.
While the sponsors of this bill say they believe it could help with the student debt crisis, they’re still calling on President Joe Biden use the power of his office to cancel student debt without Congress.
“In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, a higher education should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few,” Sen. Sanders wrote in a statement. “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. 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. In the 21st century, a free public education system that goes from kindergarten through high school is no longer good enough. The time is long overdue to make public colleges and universities tuition-free and debt-free for working families.”
“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,” Rep. Jayapal said. “The College for All Act will free students from a lifetime of debt, invest in working people, and transform higher education across America by making community college free for everyone and eliminating tuition and fees at public colleges and universities for families making up to $125,000.”