Donald Trump may be president, but Senator Bernie Sanders isn’t giving up on his radical plan to make college and university education free.
This week, the Vermont senator introduced the College for All Act, which aims to make tuition and fees free at public four-year colleges and universities for students whose family income is less than $125,000 per year. The act would also make tuition at community colleges free for students from all income levels.
While this isn’t the first time Sanders has pushed a bill pledging to make college and university tuition free, this is the first time he’s done so with the backing of other Democratic senators. The bill has five co-sponsors: Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy and Kirsten Gillibrand. By contrast, Sanders’s similar 2015 bill wasn’t backed by anyone else.
Even with this uptick in Democratic support, it’s unlikely the bill will ever become law given the Republicans control Congress and the White House. However, Sanders and other Democrats believe it can act as a rallying call to help build support. Sanders said: “ Our job now is to go out in every state in this country…. We can win this fight when millions of Americans stand up and demand this legislation.”
“We need organized events at every college campus across the country,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal, who was backed by Sanders for election last year.
Rather than students paying for their own tuition, the bill would have the government pay two-thirds of tuition subsidies, with the final third paid by state and tribal governments. This would cost approximately $600 billion according to Sanders’s office, which would be covered by taxing financial speculation on Wall Street.
The bill also includes several other progressive proposals which are designed to alleviate student debt (such as the ability for students to refinance their current loans at a better rate) but whether any of these plans ever see the light of day will depend upon how many Americans join the campaign for it.
Over to you, Bern…
Lead image: Phil Roeder (Flickr)