Free college has been the dream of many college students and politicians alike as the nation struggles with more than $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. Though President Trump’s Secretary of Education pick Betsy DeVos said during confirmation hearings that “nothing in life is truly free,” one politician in Illinois is pushing forward with the idea.
Democratic Rep. Will Guzzardi argued during a visit to Southern Illinois University last week that free college can be a reality and that state legislators only need to look at the tax code in Illinois to see how.
According to a report in the Daily Egyptian, Guzzardi argued that adding a 3 percent surcharge on the personal incomes of people who make over $1 million and closing some of the worst corporate tax loopholes can go a long way in generating enough cash to cover the tuition for all of the in-state students. What’s more, Guzzardi said if his bill allowing for free public college passed, private institutions would lower their tuition to better compete.
“This issue is personal for me,” Guzzardi said in the report. “I’m carrying tens of thousands of dollars of student debt.”
Guzzardi isn’t the only lawmaker around the country that is pushing to make college free for in-state residents. Free college was a cornerstone of Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ plan when he ran for president and is being championed by a handful of politicians.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo rolled out a plan to cover the tuition for middle and low income residents of New York earlier this month. Students who get into state or city colleges or universities would be eligible for free tuition as long as their families didn’t make $125,000 or more per year. Cuomo’s plan is similar to Sanders’ plan for free college and was well received by progressives. To cover the cost, the state would supplement existing grant programs both on the state and federal level to complete students’ tuition payments. Some students could end up having the cost of all four years of college completely covered.
The move on the part of these politicians comes at a time when the $1.3 trillion in student debt is having a considerable impact on other parts of the economy. Many student loan borrowers are putting off buying homes, starting businesses, and saving for retirement which has long ranging ramifications for the entire U.S. economy.
Author: Donna Fuscaldo
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