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Senator Bernie Sanders introduces bill to make university free


Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) heads for a recorded vote in the Senate in Washington, United States, April 19, 2021.

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

Free college may soon become a reality for many Americans.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., On Wednesday introduced the College for All plan, a law that would make college education free for millions of people and provide additional support to those of the working class. families attending institutions for minorities.

“In the richest country in the history of the world, higher education should be a right for all, not a privilege for a few,” Sanders said in a statement. “If we are to have the kind of standard of living Americans deserve, we must have the best educated workforce in the world.”

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The proposal comes amid an ongoing debate on cancel student loan debt.

President Joe Biden has said during his presidential campaign that he will support ending $ 10,000 in federal debt per borrower, and he has now instructed his Education Secretary to prepare a report on his legal authority to forgive until $ 50,000.

“While President Biden can and must immediately write off the student debt of millions of borrowers, Congress must ensure that working families never have to take out these crushing loans to receive higher education in the first place,” said Representative Jayapal.

Americans currently owe a total of more than $ 1.7 trillion in student loans, 93% of which are funded by the federal government.

The details

The plan would provide tuition-free education to all community college and public trade school students.

For students from families earning less than $ 125,000 per year, tuition would be waived at four-year public colleges and universities, as well as historically black public and private colleges and universities, and other institutions in the United States. minority service.

An annual federal investment of $ 10 billion would be established to provide ongoing support to students at these underfunded institutions.

The bill would double the maximum amount of the Pell scholarship to $ 12,990, from $ 6,495 for the 2021-2022 school year, make so-called dreamers eligible for loans and ensure that students could use the money for the terms. living costs and other costs other than tuition. It would also increase funding for programs that help low-income children, people with disabilities and first-generation students.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of bright young Americans do not get higher education every year, not because they are not qualified, but because their families do not have enough money.” , Sanders said.

A tax on Wall Street to pay it

The legislation proposed by Sanders and Jayapal is a big investment in education and comes at a high price.

The bill says the federal government will bear 75% of the cost of free colleges in public schools, with the states paying the remainder. In the event of an economic slowdown, the federal government’s share would rise to 90%.

Additionally, the bill proposes that the government pay the college free by imposing a financial transaction tax on Wall Street, as in previous shots presented by Sanders and other.

The Tax on Wall Street Speculation Act would impose a 0.5% tax on stock transactions, a 0.1% commission on bond transactions, and a 0.005% commission on derivative transactions. That would increase to $ 2.4 trillion over the next decade, according to a summary of the bill.

Admittedly, such a tax has been criticized in the past. Business groups have spoken out against it and some studies have shown it could harm middle-class Americans.

Yet those who support the tax see it as an equalizer.

“Thirteen years ago the middle class bailed out Wall Street during their time of need, even as the middle class struggled,” the bill’s summary reads. “Now it’s Wall Street’s turn to rebuild the struggling middle class by paying a modest financial transaction tax to make sure everyone in America who wants to get a higher education can do so without going into debt. . “

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