Independent senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders proposed a massive bill yesterday that would make tuition at colleges and universities across the United States free for students to attend.
According to the post announcing the legislation on Sen. Sanders’ official website, schools would not charge tuition as the cost would be paid for by both the federal and state governments (two-thirds by the federal, one-third for state). In addition, the legislation would create an increase work-study programs, ban the federal government from making a profit on loans, and would create incentives to encourage colleges to bring down costs. The total cost of such legislation would be upwards of $700 billion over the next decade.
On his website, Sen. Sanders argued that if the U.S. economy is to remain competitive in the global market, then a college education should not leave graduates buried in debt and should be something readily available to all who wish to attend.
Sen. Sanders also pointed out that other modern countries have surpassed the United States in the number of college graduates they produce and the quality of the education those students receive.
“We once led the world in the percentage of our people with a college degree, now we are in 12th place. 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.”
The Vermont senator went on a media offensive yesterday to try to gather support for the bill. Among other things, Sen. Sanders appeared on MSNBC to promote the legislation, held a press conference with student organizations and recent college graduates, and peppered his social media account and website with various quotes and statistics about the rising cost of higher education. Below is a taste of some of the senator’s social media blitz
In order to pay for the huge price tag, a tax on Wall Street transactions by hedge funds and the like would be created. With a Republican-controlled Congress currently in power, it would appear that the legislation to begin with would never pass in its current form. With a tax on Wall Street, the bill’s already slim chances are virtually non-existent.