Sanders, Jayapal introduce bill to make college tuition-free for many Americans

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) introduced legislation on Wednesday to make college tuition free for many Americans, a policy that would be paid for by a tax on Wall Street. 

The bill would make community college tuition-free for everyone and four-year public colleges tuition-free and debt-free for students from families making up to $125,000 per year. 

“In the 21st century, a free public education system that goes from kindergarten through high school is no longer good enough. The time is long overdue to make public colleges and universities tuition-free and debt-free for working families,” Sanders said in a statement.

Jayapal, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, added that the bill would “free students from a lifetime of debt, invest in working people, and transform higher education across America.”   

The bill would also allow students from families who make up to $125,000 per year to attend private, nonprofit minority-serving institutions tuition-free such as historically Black colleges and universities.

And it would double the maximum Pell Grant to $12,990, which can be used for living and nontuition expenses, and would expand eligibility to “Dreamers,” immigrants brought into the country illegally as children. 

The bill would be paid for by a tax on some Wall Street trades. Sanders said he would separately reintroduce a bill, known as the Tax on Wall Street Speculation Act, on Wednesday. It would put a 0.5 percent tax on stock trades, a 0.1 percent tax on bonds and a 0.005 tax on derivatives. 

The bill comes as Democrats are trying to build pressure on Biden to cancel student loan debt. Biden, during his presidential campaign, backed forgiving $10,000 in student loan debt. He’s now facing calls from lawmakers to go further and cancel $50,000 per borrower, which top Democrats say he can do without Congress.

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

Tags Bernie Sanders Joe Biden Pramila Jayapal

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