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Free community college and vocational schooling? Sen. Sanders looks to make it a reality

By Lee Cleveland - June 23, 2023

A groundbreaking proposal introduced by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), the College for All Act of 2023 aims to revolutionize higher education in the United States.

With the ambitious goal of making public college education accessible to all Americans, regardless of their financial circumstances, this act represents a paradigm shift in the way we approach higher education.

Under the College for All Act, community colleges and public vocational schools would offer tuition-free education to all students.

Additionally, public colleges and universities would be free for students from single-parent households earning less than $125,000 or couples earning less than $250,000 per year.

These provisions ensure that the vast majority of families in the United States would have access to affordable higher education opportunities.

Promoting Equity and Inclusion
Recognizing the historical inequities in higher education, the College for All Act of 2023 takes proactive steps to promote equity and inclusion. The bill includes increased federal funding to make tuition free for most students at universities that serve non-white groups, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). This investment aims to address the educational disparities faced by marginalized communities and provide them with equal opportunities for success.

Furthermore, the act seeks to double the maximum award for Pell Grant recipients at public or nonprofit private colleges, raising it from $7,395 to $14,790. By expanding the financial assistance available through Pell Grants, the bill ensures that low-income students have the support they need to pursue higher education without the burden of excessive debt.

Tackling the Student Debt Crisis
One of the most pressing issues in higher education is the escalating burden of student debt. The College for All Act of 2023 recognizes the detrimental impact of student loans on individuals and families, and it aims to tackle this crisis head-on. Sanders, a passionate advocate for debt relief, emphasizes the need to alleviate the burden of student loan debt, stating, “Today, this country tells young people to get the best education they can, and then saddles them for decades with crushing student loan debt. To my mind, that does not make any sense whatsoever.”

By making public colleges and universities tuition-free and debt-free for working families, the act seeks to remove the financial barriers that hinder students from pursuing their educational goals. This transformative approach envisions a society where individuals can thrive and contribute to their communities without the weight of crippling student debt.

Kudos Senator Bernie Sanders!