House Democrats are reportedly planning to unveil a higher education bill that would give students the opportunity to earn a degree without debt.
According to a report published by The Washington Post on Tuesday, Democratic lawmakers are planning to introduce a proposal, titled the Aim Higher Act, that would create a partnership between the states and the federal government and call on states to provide students with two tuition-free years at a community college.
The states would have to promise to invest more in higher education in exchange for funding from the federal government, and maintain those investments.
Robert Kelchen, assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, said the proposal is likely to face opposition, even from liberal-leaning politicians, as legislators typically move money from higher education to other areas in which spending is also mandated.
“Taking away that flexibility would be a non-starter in many states,” Kelchen told the Post. Kelchen said the proposal is unlikely to get through Congress, but may “serve as a litmus test for people running for president in 2020.”
In contrast, House Republicans had reportedly pushed a bill that the Congressional Budget Office estimated would reduce federal aid to college students by $15 billion over the next decade, if it were adopted. The bill was designed to lessen the burden on taxpayers by eliminating some student aid programs.
“The Aim Higher Act is a serious and comprehensive proposal to give every student the opportunity to earn a debt-free degree or credential,” Rep. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottIndustry, labor groups at odds over financial penalties in spending package Historically Black colleges and universities could see historic funding under Biden plan Republican Winsome Sears wins Virginia lieutenant governor's race MORE (D-Va.) said of the proposed Democratic bill in a statement to the Post.
“It provides immediate and long-term relief to students and parents struggling with the cost of college, it puts a greater focus on helping students graduate on time with a quality degree that leads to a rewarding career, and it cracks down on predatory for-profit colleges that peddle expensive, low-quality degrees at the expense of students and taxpayers,” Scott added.