College For All Act Now in Congress

Sep 11, 2017

The college year has started again, and for many students, that means anxiety over debt is here again, too.

The Institute for College Access and Success found the class of 2015 in Illinois graduated with an average debt of 26-thousand-dollars.

The College for All Act now in Congress aims to change that, making tuition for a four-year college free for students whose parents make less than 125-thousand dollars a year, and free for anyone attending a two-year community college. The bill's sponsor, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, says it is a practical and affordable plan.
"I say to everybody who says it costs too much money, 'It's just a matter of choices.' Republicans want to put a lot of money into tax breaks for the wealthiest, but with a tiny, tiny financial-transactions tax, we could pay for college for all."

A financial-transactions tax is a small surcharge on trades of stocks and bonds. Under the College for All Act, the federal government would cover two-thirds of the cost and the states would cover the rest.

Karen Strickland, with the American Federation of Teachers, says it's caused students to make tough financial decisions - some of which ultimately hurt the economy.
"They're just busy paying the debt. They're not buying homes. They're not able to replace a lousy car. They're not able to afford the quality child care that they need. There's not a whole lot of talk about that aspect of the debt problem, but it really has this impact on the overall economy."

The bill also would cut the interest rate in half for new and existing federal student loans.

The bill currently has 32 cosponsors, including Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, and seven cosponsors for the Senate version, introduced by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.