Senator Bernie Sanders runs a bill to clear college and make Wall Street pay for it

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) makes his way to a roll-call vote in the Senate in Washington, USA, on April 19, 2021.

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

Free college could soon become a reality for many Americans.

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., And Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., On Wednesday unveiled the College for All Plan, a law that would make college education free for millions and provide additional assistance to those of the working class Families attending minority institutions.

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

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The proposal comes amid an ongoing debate on the repayment of student loan debts.

President Joe Biden said during his presidential campaign that he would support federal debt elimination of $ 10,000 per borrower. Now he’s hired his education secretary to prepare a report on his legal authority to award up to $ 50,000.

“While President Biden can and should immediately cancel student debts for millions of borrowers, Congress must ensure that working families never have to take out those stifling loans to even get a higher education,” said Jayapal.

Americans currently owe a total of more than $ 1.7 trillion in student loans, 93% of which is federally supported.

The details

The plan would provide tuition-free education for all students attending community colleges and public business schools.

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

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

The bill would double the maximum Pell Grant price from $ 6,495 for the 2021-22 school year to $ 12,990, challenging so-called dreamers for the loans and ensuring that students can use the money on livelihoods and other non-tuition expenses. It would also help fund 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 an advanced education every year, not because they are unskilled but because their families do not have enough money,” said Sanders.

A Wall Street tax to pay for

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

The bill says the federal government will pay 75% of the cost of a free public school college while states pay the rest. In the event of an economic downturn, the federal government’s share would increase to 90%.

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

The Wall Street Tax Speculation Act would impose a 0.5% tax on stock trades, a 0.1% charge on bond trades, and a 0.005% charge on derivatives trades. According to a summary of the bill, this would raise up to $ 2.4 trillion over the next decade.

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

Still, those who support the tax see compensation.

“Thirteen years ago the middle class saved Wall Street in its misery, even though the middle class had problems,” reads the law summary. “Now it is on Wall Street to rebuild the struggling middle class by paying a modest financial transaction tax to ensure that anyone in America who wants a higher education can do so without going into debt.”

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