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.