Statement to be attributed to Mark Huelsman, Associate Director, Policy & Research
Wednesday, members of the House and Senate re-introduced the Debt-Free College Act, a bill that would give all students an opportunity to graduate from a public two-year or four-year college without the burden of student loan debt.
Introduced in the Senate by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and in the House by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), and cosponsored by more than 40 members of Congress, the bill would create a federal-state partnership that reinvests federal funds in public higher education, in exchange for a state commitment to help students pay for the full costs of attendance without having to take on debt.
This is a big deal. We know that students of color and working-class students shoulder the biggest burden of rising college prices and debt.
In addition to prioritizing working-class students at public colleges, the bill also extends a new commitment to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), provides DREAMers with much-needed federal financial aid eligibility, and restores financial aid eligibility for those with non-violent drug offenses.
This is a big deal. We know that students of color and working-class students shoulder the biggest burden of rising college prices and debt. We know that student debt can prevent some students from going to college, can increase the risk of not finishing, and can contribute to inequality in our economy and our democracy.
We know that states have neither committed the resources necessary to reverse this trend, nor ensured that students of color get an equal shot at an education. We also know that a guarantee of college without debt is wildly popular: 78 percent of Americans favor a policy that would ensure that all students can graduate from public two-year or four-year colleges without debt.
From our Affordable College Compact in 2014, to our state Blueprint for College without Debt, Demos has led the way on mainstreaming the bold goal of debt-free college into the policy debate. We will continue to fight for policies that get states and the federal government to recommit to funding public higher education, and ensure that the most diverse generation of students in our history have the same opportunity to follow their dreams, regardless of their family’s finances.