From: The Honorable Pramila Jayapal
Sent By:
danielle.fulfs@mail.house.gov

Date: 4/4/2017

MAKE PUBLIC COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES TUITION-FREE;

SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCE STUDENT LOAN DEBT

Co-sponsor the College for All Act

Deadline to be an original co-sponsor is Today at 2pm.

 

Supporting organizations: American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), American Association of University Professors
(AAUP), Asian American & Pacific Islander Association of Colleges and Universities (APIACU), The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Council for Opportunity in Education (COE), DEMOS, The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), National Education
Association (NEA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Student Debt Crisis, United States Student Association (USSA), College Success Foundation, Washington Student Association, Center for Community Change, MoveOn

Co-sponsors [House]: Bobby Scott, Keith Ellison, Raúl Grijalva, Mark Pocan, Barbara Lee, Richard Nolan, Sheila Jackson Lee, Ro Khanna, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Nydia Velázquez, John Conyers, Jamie Raskin, David Cicilline, Peter Welch,
Grace Napolitano, James Langevin, Earl Blumenauer, Adriano Espaillat

Co-sponsors [Senate]: Bernard Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy, Kirsten Gillibrand

 

Dear Colleague:

In the twenty-first century, a public education system that goes from kindergarten through high school is no longer good enough.  That is not the world we live in today.  The world is changing, technology is changing, and our economy is changing.

Today, a college degree is the equivalent of what a high school degree was a generation ago.  If we are to succeed in a highly competitive global economy and have the best-educated workforce in the world, public colleges and universities must become tuition-free
for working families, and we must substantially reduce student debt.

The U.S. once led the world in the percentage of young college graduates.  Today, we are in eleventh place.  The United States should not be falling behind other countries in terms of making public colleges and universities accessible to all, regardless
of income.  We should be leading the way.  Higher education in America should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few.

Today, skyrocketing costs are making it harder and harder for ordinary Americans to get the college education they need.  Since 1970, average inflation-adjusted tuition at a four-year public university has almost quadrupled.  Currently, nearly 70 percent
of all students graduating from a four-year college will leave school with debt, with the average amount exceeding $30,000.

In the year 2017, we should be encouraging our people to get the best education they can, not punishing them with a mountain of debt.

Therefore, we invite you to join us in co-sponsoring the College for All Act.  This legislation would:

  • Eliminate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities for those making up to $125,000.  This bill would create a partnership between the U.S. government and states that would provide $2 in federal funding for every dollar
    a state spends on making public colleges and universities tuition-free for undergraduate students.  The plan would also cover 100 percent of the cost of books and room and board for low-income students.  Under this legislation, children from any family making
    $125,000 or less – about 80 percent of our population – would be able to attend a public four-year college or university, or Tribal College or University, tuition-and fee-free.  All students – regardless of income – would also be able to attend community colleges
    free of tuition and fees.
  • Cut Student Loan Interest Rates in Half.  The College for All Act would cut all student loan interest rates in half.  If enacted today, student loan interest rates for new undergraduate borrowers would drop from 3.76% to just
    1.88%.
  • Allow Americans to re-finance student loans at the lowest interest rate possible.  This bill would enable existing borrowers to refinance their loans based on the interest rates available to new borrowers.  Today, Americans can refinance
    their home loans with an interest rate of less than 4 percent, but millions of Americans with high student loan interest rates are unable to refinance their student loan debt.
  • Prevent the Federal government from profiting off of student loan programs.  This bill would end the absurdity of the government profiting off of student loan programs and would make college more affordable for millions of Americans.
    Over the next decade, the federal government is projected to make over $70 billion in profits off of student loan programs.
  • Triple our current investment in the Work-Study Program to help over 2 million students.

This legislation has been endorsed by the National Education Association; the American Federation of Teachers; the United States Student Association; the American Association of University Professors; the Asian American & Pacific Islander Association of
Colleges and Universities; the American Indian Higher Education Consortium; the League of United Latin American Citizens; the Service Employees International Union; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and several other organizations
representing millions of college students, educators, and working families.

Our legislation is not a radical idea.  In 1965, average tuition at a four-year public university was just $256.  In 1975, the City University of New York was tuition-free.  The University of California system, considered by many to be the crown jewel of
public higher education in this country, did not begin charging tuition until the 1970s.  In 1944, we passed the GI Bill providing a free college education to millions of World War II veterans.  As a result of the GI Bill, veterans got the education they needed
to become doctors, scientists, engineers, astronauts, and lawyers.  And for every dollar the federal government spent on the GI Bill, the federal government received $6.90 in additional revenues.

Other nations around the world understand the benefits of having an educated workforce that isn’t burdened with enormous student debt.  In Germany, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden public colleges and universities are free.  Governments in those
countries understand the value of investing in their young people.  So should we.

The estimated $600 billion cost of this legislation would be paid for by a separate bill to tax Wall Street speculation.  More than 1,000 economists have endorsed a tax on Wall Street speculation and some 40 countries have already imposed a similar financial
transactions tax.  During the financial crisis, Wall Street received the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of the world.  Now, it’s Wall Street’s turn to help rebuild the disappearing middle class.

If you would like to become a co-sponsor of this legislation, please contact Michael DiNapoli in Sen. Sanders office at
Michael_DiNapoli@budget.senate.gov  or Danielle Fulfs in Rep. Jayapal’s office at
Danielle.Fulfs@mail.house.gov.

 

Sincerely,

 

__________________

Bernard Sanders

United States Senator

   

___________________

Pramila Jayapal

Member of Congress

 

___________________

Robert C. “Bobby” Scott

Member of Congress

   

___________________

Keith Ellison

Member of Congress

 

____________________

Raúl M. Grijalva

Member of Congress

   

___________________

Richard M. Nolan

Member of Congress

 

____________________

Barbara Lee

Member of Congress

   

_____________________

Mark Pocan

Member of Congress