Wednesday, Bernie Sanders, along with Democrat Pramila Jayapal, unveiled a bill designed to make college free for many students in the country. At the same time, Wall Street is facing higher taxes in order to pay for these costs. The College for All Plan would allow millions of people to attend school without having crippling student debt. Those from working families would also receive additional support if they were attending minority institutions.
Under the new bill, everyone could attend community college for free. Traditional four-year colleges would also be accessible for students from families making less than $125,000 a year. Sanders’ belief is that free public education should extend beyond the high school years in the current century. In a statement, he explained that it is past time to allow working-class families the ability to send their students to school and help them get an education – without having to worry about debt.
At the same time, Sanders higher education should not be a privilege for everyone so the workforce can be as well-educated as possible. Still, those from families making more than $125,000 a year may struggle to cover the cost of school. The bill also does not cover every type of college. That means those looking to attend specific private schools may still want to consider taking out student loans from a private lender.
However, the bill would be a relief to many people facing years of debt because they could not initially afford school. According to Jayapal, the bill is designed to be an investment in the working class, transforming education beyond high school. The College for All Plan would also cover specific non-profit and private schools. Students from families making less than the threshold would be able to attend minority institutions that met the criteria tuition-free. That means it would be possible to participate in schools that served Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Blacks, and Pacific Islanders.
To make that possible, the federal government plans on investing $10 billion a year for these often-under-funded institutions. Jayapal has called on President Biden to cancel millions of people’s student loan debt but also mentioned the importance of ensuring that working families do not need to take out this type of debt in the future. Jayapal said Congress needs to take responsibility for providing higher education is accessible to all, no matter their income levels.
The bill is also designed to double the Pell Grant, bringing the total amount of aid up to a maximum of $12,990 a year. Currently, the grant offers up to $6,495 a year toward the cost of tuition. For students attending college tuition-free, the funds could be used for non-tuition-related expenses, such as textbooks or housing. Those who arrived in the country as illegal immigrants as children, Dreamers, would also be eligible for the new grant.
In the midst of Democratic pressure on President Biden to cancel student loans, the bill is designed to add a measure of relief to incoming college students. During Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, he agreed to forgive up to $10,000 of student loan debt. However, now lawmakers are pressuring him to take it a few steps further and forgive up to $50,000 for each person. Some Democrats say he can do so without the approval of Congress.
The Democrats have proposed a tax on Wall Street’s specific trades to fund the new bill. Sanders has plans to introduce a second bill, the Tax on Wall Street Speculation Act. It would result in a 0.005 percent tax on derivatives, a 0.5 percent tax on stock trades, and a 0.1 tax on bonds.