The dismantling of affirmative action in college admissions by the Supreme Court has made it more important than ever to achieve universal access to higher education. Without affirmative action as a counterbalance for historical inequities, it is imperative that we rally behind the vision of "college for all."
ln an era marked by skyrocketing college costs and debilitating student loan debts, it is time we join the ranks of countries that recognize education as a fundamental right and public good rather than a privilege for the few.
Sign the petition: Call for tuition-free higher education with College for All Act.
The current outstanding student loan debt, surpassing $1.7 trillion, is an alarming indicator of the financial challenges faced by students. According to the Federal Reserve, the average student loan debt for a bachelor's degree is now over $30,000. Black and Hispanic students are disproportionately burdened by student loan debt as they are more likely to borrow for college and have higher debt levels than white students. This is due to a number of factors including racial disparities in income and wealth as well as the fact that Black and Hispanic students are more likely to attend college at for-profit institutions, which tend to be more expensive.
It is important to recognize that the notion of tuition-free or low-cost higher education is not a new or radical concept. Prior to the 1980s, many American universities offered tuition-free education. New York City's public college system was tuition-free until 1976, and California's until the 1980s. Many countries around the world, including Germany, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, have long embraced the provision of free higher education. It's time we reclaim this vision for the United States and build a system that ensures equal access to education.
The College For All Act aims to level the playing field, making higher education accessible and affordable to all students regardless of their financial backgrounds. The key provisions include:
Tuition-free public colleges, universities, and community colleges: The act ensures that all students can attend public four-year colleges, universities, and community colleges tuition-free.
Historically Black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and other minority-serving institutions: Students who enroll at these institutions can also attend tuition and fee-free, opening up opportunities to communities traditionally underserved by higher education for single households that make less that $125,000 and married households that make $250,000 annually.
Doubling of the maximum Pell Grant award: The maximum award would double from $7,395 to $14,790 for the 2024-2025 school year. This would also enable students to cover expenses that are not tuition-related, such as living expenses, child care, and transportation.
Increased funding for student support programs: Boosting programs like TRIO and Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduates (GEAR UP), which help low-income, disabled, and first-generation students.
Paid for by a Tax on Wall Street Speculation: The act would be financed through a small Wall Street speculation tax, projected to raise up to $2.4 trillion over the next decade.
Studies have shown that tuition-free college can lead to increased economic growth and a more equitable society. For example, a study by the Brookings Institution found that tuition-free college would boost the U.S. economy by $1.4 trillion over the next decade. It would also help to close the racial wealth gap and increase social mobility.
But for the College for All Act to become a reality, we need your support. We must let our representatives know that we believe in the future of our country, and that future requires an educated populace free from the shackles of debt.
Our young people are our future. They deserve the chance to pursue their dreams without the specter of insurmountable debt hanging over their heads. The College for All Act is a step toward a brighter future, a future where every American has access to the education they need to succeed in our rapidly changing world. We have the evidence, we have historical precedents, and we have the means to make it possible. Together, we can make the College for All Act a reality.
Sign the petition: Let our representatives know that we believe in an educated populace, free from the shackles of debt.