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Debt-Free College for All

Tamara Draut

Over the summer, the call to return the United States to debt-free college has been loud and clear. To fulfill the promise of our higher education system, we must ensure that today’s students, the most racially and socioeconomically diverse college class in American history, have the same opportunities as generations past.

In the early 1990s, most students didn’t borrow to earn a degree. Today, over three-in-four graduates take on debt to graduate, and far too many are crushed by it.

Activists and student leaders have pushed Presidential candidates and leading members of Congress to endorse a version of debt-free college. But until all US students can obtain college degrees without taking on crippling debt, the work isn’t done.

That’s why Demos is launching a new site today,, to draw attention to the student debt crisis and its


In our Affordable College Compact and in a joint paper with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), we have outlined how all public universities and colleges can achieve debt-free education through federal aid to states, increased aid to students, and innovation to reduce the underlying costs of college.

Demos has been working to highlight the root cause of our student debt crisis for years. We’ve released reports showing how state disinvestment has spurred our debt-financed college system, how this system stymies wealth-building investments like buying a home, and how this system poses added risks and consequences for Black, Latino, and low-income students.

Today, there’s a chance to make this bold policy real. Take a look at our site and join us in demanding that politicians take a stand on debt-free college today.