Earlier last week, US Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) led lawmakers in introducing the College for All Act, transformative legislation that opens up the dream of a college degree to millions of working-class students.
According to Jayapal, the proposal eliminates tuition and fees at public colleges and universities for families making up to $125,000 — nearly 80 percent of families — while also making community college free for every person across the country. This would make the most substantial federal investment in higher education in modern American history.
“While President Biden can and should immediately cancel student debt for millions of borrowers, Congress must ensure that working families never have to take out these crushing loans to receive a higher education in the first place,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “The College for All Act will free students from a lifetime of debt, invest in working people, and transform higher education across America by making community college free for everyone and eliminating tuition and fees at public colleges and universities for families making up to $125,000.”
Aligned with the Plan for Education Beyond High School that President Biden championed last year, the legislation guarantees tuition-free community college for all students, and ensures that students from families earning under $125,000 a year are able to attend public colleges and universities tuition-free and debt-free. It would also guarantee that students in families who earn less than $125,000 a year can attend non-profit Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) tuition-free and debt-free. Additionally, the bill makes an annual $10 billion federal investment to cover student support programs in these under-funded institutions.
“In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, a higher education should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few,” said Senator Sanders.
The College for All Act also doubles the maximum Pell Grant to $12,990, allows students to use the money to cover living and non-tuition expenses such as books and housing, and expands grant eligibility to Dreamers. Additionally, the legislation triples federal TRIO and doubles GEAR UP funding to serve millions of additional low-income students, students with disabilities, and first-generation college students in their pursuit of a higher education.