Rumor has it that democratic candidate Bernie Sanders wants to make tuition free at public colleges and universities. Surely no one would oppose such a plan – after all, education costs are downright prohibitive for a lot of people. But how does he plan on making it happen? Is it even possible?
Seeing as he’s made it one of the biggest aspects of his campaign, Sanders obviously thinks that it is most certainly a possibility. He claims that he was the beneficiary of free education following the Great Depression, as were many others, and so there’s no reason it can’t happen again.
First and foremost, Bernie Sanders wants to make sure that the federal government is no longer making a profit on student loans. Over the next ten years, the government is expected to make a $110 billion profit on student loan programs – money that could be spent significantly lowering interests rates rather than going into the pocket of the government. In 2006, the interest rate was 2.37%, almost 2% lower than it is today, and Sanders thinks we can lower it back down again. On top of that, people with existing student loan debt should be able to retroactively enjoy the lower interest rates, he says.
Sanders also thinks that college education should be more accessible for all, and therefore public colleges and universities would be required to meet 100% of the financial needs of the lowest-income students if he were in office. Federal, state, and college financial aid would cover room and board, books, fees, and living expenses so that anyone can go to college and get the college experience. On top of this, he would more than triple the federal work study program so that these students can also build career experience and make them better, more hireable job candidates.
Perhaps most importantly, he wants to accomplish the majority of these goals by imposing a tax on Wall Street speculators. Taxing Wall Street speculation has been supported by more than 1,000 economists, and more than 40 countries around the world have already imposed a similar tax. It is these speculators who have helped cause the most recent recession, so if we started taxing a fraction of their activities, we could make public colleges and universities free – and students debt free – making for a better, rebuilt workforce.
What do you think about the plan to make college free? It’s definitely an extreme step up from the current free online courses being offered – but it would benefit the majority of the US population.