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senate Bill S. 1373

Should the U.S. Eliminate Tuition for Public Colleges and Reform Student Loans?

Argument in favor

Higher education plays an essential role in enhancing opportunity in the U.S. and across the globe. The cost of a public university should never be a deterrent to anyone who wants to improve their situation with education.

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06/13/2015
"It is a national disgrace that hundreds of thousands of young Americans today do not go to college, not because they are unqualified, but because they cannot afford it. [...] My legislation would impose a Wall Street speculation fee of 0.5 percent on stock trades (that’s 50 cents for every $100 worth of stock) […][which would] make sure that every qualified American in this country who wants to go to college can go to college -- regardless of income." (Read my full statement on this legislation, linked in the 'More Information' section)
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06/15/2015
"I believe that we can - and we must - make college affordable for every hard-working kid who wants to get an education. It’s up to us." [twitter/senwarren]
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06/15/2015
"Our country was built on the belief that no matter who you are or where you were born, your hard work should pay off. But for too many of our children, that promise is out of reach from the very start. We must close the gap by making access to safe and affordable childcare and pre-K universal, and college debt-free for all." [martinomalley.com]
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Argument opposed

This proposal would provide a free education to many students who could afford to pay for one. There are serious questions about whether it would make higher education less efficient and lower quality through reduced competition for students.

ShellyInTX's Opinion
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06/10/2015
It's not free. Nothing is free. It will be passed on to the tax payers.
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DonaldTrump's Opinion
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09/17/2015
"You could cut the Department of Education way, way, way down." [forbes.com]
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ThomasParker's Opinion
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06/13/2015
There are too many things wrong with this bill to point out here, but not allowing the actual buyers of a product to pay directly for it will undermine the price system, which communicates its value based on supply and demand. College will be more expensive, lower average quality, and the students will not value what they receive on another's dime.
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What is Senate Bill S. 1373?

This bill seeks to make higher education more attainable for all Americans by eliminating tuition at four-year public colleges and universities and reforming student loans.

It would authorize the Secretary of Education to establish grant programs to eliminate tuition and required fees at four-year public colleges and universities. The federal government would cover 67 percent of the cost, while states would be responsible for the remaining 33 percent — which comes to about $47 billion every year for the federal government’s share. It is expected to cost about $750 billion over the next ten years.

Federal funding would be provided by a ‘Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street’ — basically taxing a small percent of Wall Street transactions involving stocks, bonds, and derivatives. The taxing scale is laid out by another bill introduced in the 114th session, the Inclusive Prosperity Act.

To qualify for the federal grants this bill provides, states must maintain their spending on higher education, academic instruction, and need-based financial aid. Colleges and universities would be required to reduce their reliance on adjunct faculty — basically professors who don't have permanent or full-time positions (or a tenure track), making them less of an investment for the universities where they teach. States could use the grant funding to increase academic opportunities for students, hire new faculty, and provide professional development for professors.

This bill would also lower student loan interest rates by nearly half from 4.32 percent to 2.32 percent — while also setting an upper limit to prevent student loan interest rates from ever rising above 8.25 percent. Eligible borrowers would be able to refinance their loans based on interest rates available to current students.

Work study programs would be expanded to allow more students and colleges to participate in them. Funding for work study programs would be focused on schools that enroll high-numbers of low-income students.

A pilot program would be created to simplify the financial aid process, with a goal to allow students to only apply once (instead of every year they are in college) for financial aid. 

Impact

Current and potential students in state universities, faculty and administrators at these institutions, state governments, entities involved in student loans, and the Department of Education.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1373

$750.00 Billion
A CBO cost estimate is unavailable. However, the bill's sponsor, Bernie Sanders (I-VT) estimates $750 billion over the next ten years, or $47 billion annually.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) lamented the “crisis in higher education” when describing the rationale for this bill. He continued:

“It is a national disgrace that hundreds of thousands of young Americans today do not go to college, not because they are unqualified, but because they cannot afford it… In a global economy, when our young people are competing with workers from around the world, we have got to have the best educated workforce possible.”

It has been speculated that by introducing this bill, Sen. Sanders is attempting encourage student debt to become a part of the Democratic party’s platform in the 2016 presidential election, whether he or Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee.

This proposal has been criticized in a number of ways, with concerns that a lack of competition will lead public universities feeling less pressure to serve students effectively. Another problematic area includes the centralization of authority in Washington, which many fear could inhibit innovation that might lead to more efficient ways of delivering higher education.

One writer called this bill a “cynical handout to the upper-middle class” that may “hit the jackpot of reducing college quality while also increasing cost” — noting that even after abolishing college tuition, students in Sweden graduated with the equivalent of $19,000 in debt.


Of Note: There are more than 40 million people in the U.S. with student loans, who are carrying a total of $1.1 trillion in student loan debt. As of 2009, about 56 percent of the U.S. population had at least attended college — and almost 28 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about two-thirds of students who graduated from high school in 2014 attended colleges or universities in the fall of that year.


Media:


Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: "Berkeley15" by LAgirl5252 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

AKA

College for All Act

Official Title

A bill to amend the Higher Education Act to improve higher education programs, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Finance
    IntroducedMay 19th, 2015
    "It is a national disgrace that hundreds of thousands of young Americans today do not go to college, not because they are unqualified, but because they cannot afford it. [...] My legislation would impose a Wall Street speculation fee of 0.5 percent on stock trades (that’s 50 cents for every $100 worth of stock) […][which would] make sure that every qualified American in this country who wants to go to college can go to college -- regardless of income." (Read my full statement on this legislation, linked in the 'More Information' section)
    Like (2121)
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    It's not free. Nothing is free. It will be passed on to the tax payers.
    Like (308)
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    "I believe that we can - and we must - make college affordable for every hard-working kid who wants to get an education. It’s up to us." [twitter/senwarren]
    Like (844)
    Follow
    Share
    "Our country was built on the belief that no matter who you are or where you were born, your hard work should pay off. But for too many of our children, that promise is out of reach from the very start. We must close the gap by making access to safe and affordable childcare and pre-K universal, and college debt-free for all." [martinomalley.com]
    Like (522)
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    It works in other developed countries. Why not ours?
    Like (315)
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    Back in the seventies, a summer job could easily pay for a year or university. Tuition is ten times more expensive than it was back then and minimum wage has only multiplied by about seven times. There is a problem. I can barely go to school myself right now. And I have earned scholarships. But even that's not enough to cut it sometimes. Not to mention by the end of four years I'll be $28,000 in debt. It's not the government's job to educate me, but if this is a government for the people, it should help support me and its future.
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    "You could cut the Department of Education way, way, way down." [forbes.com]
    Like (152)
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    There are too many things wrong with this bill to point out here, but not allowing the actual buyers of a product to pay directly for it will undermine the price system, which communicates its value based on supply and demand. College will be more expensive, lower average quality, and the students will not value what they receive on another's dime.
    Like (143)
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    We need to invest in our students. This is how so many other countries around the world are ahead of us.
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    Student debt is higher than credit card and mortgage debt, but cannot be refinanced? This is not right. Do the right thing.
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    Instead of restating the benefits, I will disprove one of the main cons given by the people against free public education. This con states that eliminating public tuition would lower competition among students, therefore allowing the college system's quality to falter. What isn't realized by non supporters is that the exact opposite is true: getting rid of tuition allows for more students with potential to seek higher levels of education that their families previously couldn't have afforded. By keeping high tuitions, the nation limits the ability for individuals to gain the knowledge they crave and deserve. So the "argument" of lowering education quality simply doesn't make sense: if the pool of competition populates, won't there more bright students to accept? Yes, yes there will be.
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    "One of the great mistakes is to judge polices and programs by their intentions rather than their results" -Milton Friedman. Proponents of such nonsensical legislation are out of their minds. Free public college tuition for all would effectively cost $750 billion to fund over a decade, money we don't have. The budget we currently have already looks like a college student is handling it. We take on $3.6-3.7 trillion in tax revenue per year, but spend roughly $4 trillion. This is absolutely ridiculous, the amount of taxpayer funding we waste on bogus programs. The people deserve to spend their money as they wish, the government shouldn't be deciding how it's spent. It is estimated that you would have to run up taxes over the 50% mark for millions of hardworking Americans to fund such obscenity. This proposal shows just how far left the Democratic Party has become. Many loopy individuals that advocate for this ridiculous program have absolutely no clue why we have a problem of expensive college tuition. The reason colleges have jacked up tuition well above inflation rates is because the federal government has increasingly granted more and more aid to college bound students. The numbers are all there, the more aid that's been granted by the unnecessary U.S. Dept. of Ed., the greater the tuition has gotten, increasing the burden upon students who have overwhelming debt when they leave school. There is no reason why every single kid should be receiving government aid, it's the #1 contributing factor to higher costs of education. Therefore, more government is NOT THE SOLUTION. If this were on the verge of being passed, you don't think that these schools would jack up their prices to get more revenue and funding from the federal government? Professors, staff members, and administration would all take huge cuts in pay, the universities would also run out of money for infrastructure building and expanding their research as time passes, which would effectively destroy competition between public and private universities. The lack of compensation would make these schools lag behind the rest, and completely soak our hardworking men and women in taxes. Only a lunatic could possibly believe that this would work. We already give all Americans free public education K-12, and we still have a problem properly funding that!!!! Not to mention that a good chunk of students who are granted free education in high school don't even take it seriously, so what makes us think they are going to take college any more seriously? You're gonna have millions of kids that abuse the system for "the college experience" much like the abuse of free housing and food stamps. Also, a huge flaw in this whole thing is that the American work force lacks tradesmen. We have a major shortage in plumbers, electrical workers, and mechanics, as people continue to come out of school with useless liberal arts degrees that don't earn them a solid paying job. There will be even more of an influx in this crowd of people who leave college with no credentials necessary to become contributors to our labor force. And if you think you're going to get by without paying a dime for your "free college", you're horribly mistaken. You will be picking up the tab when you go out and try working for a living and you're paying the federal government 40-50% of what you earn. This socialism crap does not incentivize Americans to work and be productive and sustain a good living, it only evens out the playing field between hardworking individuals who get nothing in return, and those who don't do anything good for society. There is a very slim margin of people who will benefit from this, but that is not enough to justify the tyrannical taxation that comes with it. No, you're not entitled to a college education. Work for it, and pay off loans like everybody else does and has been doing for so many years. It is sad that we have such a movement going on that centers around a loopy ideology that doesn't belong here in the U.S. You want socialism? You want your free college education, free healthcare, free everything? Move out of the country, it's that simple. A super sized federal government that controls where everyone's money goes is not what we stand for, and not what this country was founded upon. It's quite simple actually, take a one way flight to Sweden. The reason we have such large scale immigration and desires to enter our country is because our economic system is the most fair, and most rewarding in the entire world. Here in America, anybody can work hard and achieve financial success, raise a family, and lead the way toward affluence for generations to come. This is why our country is so great, and I can't understand why so many individuals support the illogical far left policies that would fundamentally destroy our economic system and throw millions of Americans out of work and into poverty. It's okay though, we'll give them all food stamps and free housing! Free everything! These types of programs and severe government increases belong nowhere in this country, and they never will. Businesses and jobs will continue to flee the country as we continue to raise taxes upon our hardworking Americans and business trying to compete in the global market, who deserve better. These are some of the darkest days of America, mark my words.
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    Find a way to make this work. Only a well educated population will move this country forward.
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    An emphatic yes. America will not be able to compete internationally if we're too debt straddled to act. We're losing an entire generation to university debt and this is unheard of internationally.
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    Students must have some skin in the game. Reduce fees based on need only.
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    Anybody can get into college and afford it. It's called hard work and dedication to getting good grades to get scholarships and get the help you need to get to go to college. The public education system is failing already. This will just make college a disaster like public schools are becoming now. Besides students appreciate school more when they have earned the education instead of having it given to them.
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    If you aren't getting a college education, it shouldn't be because you can't afford it.
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    It's a little idealistic, and I have a really hard time imagining congress getting it passed.. But the results would be phenomenal. It makes me want to vote for Bernie over Hillary. Bernie 2016! Yeaaaaaa!
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    A college degree would lose its value the second we make higher education free. Graduating from high school barely gets you anywhere because everyone does it.
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    While I don't entirely agree with trying to eliminate tuition costs altogether, the ridiculous rise in in-state tuition costs across the country, especially in my state of Illinois, has led to many students looking out of state for college or putting it off entirely for years because they cant afford it.
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