U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have joined their Vermont colleague U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in introducing legislation that would make public colleges and universities tuition-free for families making up to $125,000, while making community college tuition-free for everyone.
The College for All Act (S.1373) would finance this effort and would be a new “transaction tax on certain securities transfers,” with the U.S. Department of Education awarding grants to the schools waiving tuition and fees. The bill calls for a new grant program that would eliminate or significantly reduce tuition and fees for low-income students at nonprofit historically black colleges and universities and private nonprofit minority serving institutions.
The bill also seeks to cut all student loan interest rates for new borrowers in half while enabling existing borrowers to refinance their loans based on the interest rates available to new borrowers.
“My wife and I are still paying back our student loans, but we’re some of the lucky ones who can save for our kids’ futures,” said Murphy. “Instead, too many families in Connecticut are suffocating under crushing student loan debt. We need to revolutionize the way we think about higher education and ensure colleges share responsibility for the success of their graduates. At the same time, we should make sure that cost is not a barrier to a college degree, just as it isn’t a barrier to a high school degree.”
“At a time when college remains out of reach for far too many, this legislation would make college tuition-free for working families, reduce student debt and breathe new life into the American Dream,” said Blumenthal.
Murphy, Blumenthal and Sanders introduced the bill in the Senate along with Democratic U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of NewYork. A similar bill was also introduced in the House of Representatives.