Sanders: Make College Tuition-Free

WASHINGTON, May 19 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today introduced legislation to make 4-year public colleges and universities tuition free.

“We live in a highly competitive global economy. If our economy is to be strong, we need the best educated work force in the world.  That will not happen if every year hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college and if millions more leave school deeply in debt,” Sanders said.

Under the legislation, $70 billion a year in assistance – two-thirds from the federal government and one-third from states – would replace what public colleges and universities now charge in tuition and fees. The federal share of the cost would be offset by imposing a tax on Wall Street transactions by investment houses, hedge funds and other speculators.

The legislation also would overhaul student loan programs so students and their parents could reduce crushing debt loads which now exceed Americans’ credit card debt. Federal profits on loans would be eliminated, work-study programs expanded and incentives offered for colleges and universities to keep costs down.

“We once led the world in the percentage of our people with a college degree, now we are in 12th place.” Sanders said. “Countries like Germany, Denmark, Sweden and many more are providing free or inexpensive higher education for their young people.  They understand how important it is to be investing in their youth.  We should be doing the same,” he added.

Tuition at 4-year public colleges and universities rose by 50 percent in the United States during the past decade.  As state governments have cut support for higher education, the burden has shifted to students and their parents.

With this spring’s college commencement season underway, the class of 2015 is the most indebted class in American history, according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Edvisors, a website on college costs and financial aid.

To read more about the legislation, click here.

To read Sanders’ speech, click here.

To read the bill, click here