San­ders: Make Col­lege Tuition-Free

Stanstead Journal - - FROM PAGE ONE - Wash­ing­ton, DC

Sen. Bernie San­ders (I-Vt.) yes­ter­day 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.

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