Dear Commons Community,
In what is mostly a symbolic action, six Democrats (three in the Senate and three in the House) issued a joint resolution yesterday calling for debt-free public college education. As reported in The Huffington Post:
“A group of congressional Democrats introduced a resolution on Tuesday seeking to ensure that students who attend public colleges and universities can graduate without debt.
The Senate resolution was introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), while Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) introduced the House version.
The lawmakers support plans to increase financial aid, help states lower tuition and make it possible for students to earn degrees in less time…
The debt-free resolution is backed by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which is hosting events at town halls at several public colleges and universities across the country this week. Some of those events are scheduled at schools in Iowa and New Hampshire, as the committee hopes to make debt-free college a key issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.
A paper co-authored by the PCCC and Demos, a liberal think tank, argues that debt can be reduced through a combination of educational offerings and accountability measures. The groups’ suggestions include increasing the number of advanced placement courses and early college high school programs that are offered, ensuring that schools aren’t using federal money for advertising and requiring schools with large endowments to guarantee debt-free college.”
The specific wording of the resolution was as follows:
Resolved, that the Senate supports efforts—
(1) to ensure that, through a combination of efforts, all students have access to debt-free higher education, defined to mean having no debt upon graduation from all public institutions of higher education;
(2) to provide support to States so States can make increased investments in higher education that will result in lower tuition and costs for students;
(3) to increase financial aid to students to help them afford the total cost of college attendance without taking on debt;
(4) to encourage innovation by States and institutions of higher education to cut costs for students and make college more affordable by increasing efficiency and enabling speedy and less-costly degree completion; and
(5) to reduce the burden of existing student loan debt.
Just as President Obama’s call earlier this year for tuition-free public community college did not go very far in the Republican-controlled Congress, this resolution likewise has little chance of being enacted in the near future. However, at some point when the Congressional and White House political stars align more favorably, it is possible that legislation establishing some form of free public college education will see the light of day.