Bernie Sanders Wants To Make College Free For Everyone: He’ll do it by introducing a tax on stocks.
Bernie Sanders spoke yesterday about new legislation he is introducing to make college free for everyone.
“We have a crisis in higher education today.
Too many of our young people cannot afford a college education and those who are leaving college are faced with crushing debt. It is a national disgrace that hundreds of thousands of young Americans today do not go to college, not because they are unqualified, but because they cannot afford it. This is absolutely counterproductive to our efforts to create a strong competitive economy and a vibrant middle class. This disgrace has got to end.
In a global economy, when our young people are competing with workers from around the world, we have got to have the best educated workforce possible.
And, that means that we have got to make college affordable.”
We have got to make sure that every qualified American in this country who wants to go to college can go to college — regardless of income.
Bernie cites the following statistics as unacceptable for Americans:
- 40 million Americans are drowning in more than $1.2 trillion in student loan debt
- Millions of college graduates cannot afford to buy their first home or their first new car because of the high interest rates they are paying on student debt.
- In many instances, interest rates on student loans are two to three times higher than on auto loans.
He gave examples of other countries that recognize that allowing all qualified students, regardless of income, to achieve a higher education is an investment in the economic prosperity of their people.
Examples of other countries investing in the education of their future citizens:
- Last year, tuition was eliminated in Germany because policymakers believed that charging $1,300 per year was discouraging students from attending college.
- In Denmark, not only is college free of tuition and fees, people who go to college in that country actually get paid to go to college.
- In Finland, Norway and Sweden, tuition and fees are free not only for their citizens, but in many cases, foreign students as well.
- Chile will implement free college tuition next year, and pay for it by increasing taxes on corporations.
A Generation Ago, America Did invest the Education of its Citizens
There was a time, not so many years ago, when we in the United States understood the importance of making college available to all qualified students, regardless of income.
A generation ago, our nation’s public colleges and universities were the pathways for all students, no matter their family background, to enter the middle class.
For example, the University of California system, considered by many to be the crown jewel of public higher education in this country, did not begin charging tuition until the 1980s.
In 1965, average tuition at a four-year public university was just $243, and many of the best colleges — such as the City University of New York — did not charge any tuition.
America Used to be #1 in Percentage of Young Americans with College Degrees
And this investment in higher education worked – the United States once led the world in the percentage of young Americans with college degrees.
Where is America today?….. we are in 12th place.
Summary of Senator Sanders’ College for All Act
Eliminate Undergraduate Tuition at 4-year Public Colleges and Universities.
This legislation would provide $47 billion per year to states to eliminate undergraduate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities. Today, total tuition at public colleges and universities amounts to about $70 billion per year. Under the College for All Act, the federal government would cover 67% of this cost, while the states would be responsible for the remaining 33% of the cost.
To qualify for federal funding, states must meet a number of requirements designed to protect students, ensure quality, and reduce ballooning costs. States will need to maintain spending on their higher education systems, on academic instruction, and on need-based financial aid. In addition, colleges and universities must reduce their reliance on low-paid adjunct faculty.
States would be able to use funding to increase academic opportunities for students, hire new faculty, and provide professional development opportunities for professors. No funding under this program may be used to fund administrator salaries, merit-based financial aid, or the construction of non-academic buildings like stadiums and student centers.
Student Loan Reforms
Restoration of Historically Low Student Loan Interest Rates.
The College for All Act would lower student loan interest rates by restoring the formula which was in effect until 2006. Student loan interest rates would be cut almost in half for undergraduate students, dropping from 4.32% to just 2.32%. In addition, the legislation would ensure rates never rise above 8.25%.
Student Loan Re-financing.
The College for All Act would enable borrowers to refinance their loans based on the interest rates available to current students.
Work Study Reforms.
Today, the federal work study program receives less than $1 billion per year, and serves nearly 700,000 students. This legislation would expand the number of students and colleges that can offer part-time employment and participate in the federal work study program, and focus funding on schools that enroll high numbers of low-income students.
Simplifying the Student Aid Application Process.
The bill would create a pilot program to eliminate the requirement that students re-apply for financial aid each year, simplifying the application process and removing significant barriers faced by low-income students.
Fully Paid for by Imposing a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street.
This legislation is offset by imposing a Wall Street speculation fee on investment houses, hedge funds, and other speculators of 0.5% on stock trades (50 cents for every $100 worth of stock), a 0.1% fee on bonds, and a 0.005% fee on derivatives.