In an interview with Vox published on Mar. 20, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, discussed his plan for debt-free college. According to the article, his bill, the “Debt Free College Act of 2018,” will be introduced Thursday and account for the full cost of college, including living expenses, food and books. Aid would be given to students through need-based grants, unlike tuition-free college affordability plans (such as Sen. Bernie Sanders’, I–Vermont) that aim to eliminate tuition (at public, undergraduate institutions) for all regardless of income.
“Tuition is only 45 percent of the cost of college,” Schatz is quoted as saying in the interview. “And I also believe that we ought to cover the full cost of college for people who can’t afford it before we cover tuition for people who can.”
Schatz’s plan would allow participating states to get a dollar-for-dollar match from the federal government for spending on state schools, Vox reported, as long as these volunteer states commit to providing need-based grants that keep students from taking on debt. Currently, 40 million Americans have student loan debt. Adding up to $1.4 trillion, student loans total more than national credit card debt and are second only to mortgage debt.
“No family escapes this,” Schatz told Vox. “It’s important to remember this is a problem primarily about young people, but it impacts parents and grandparents. It impacts a lot of parents who are still paying off their own loans while saving up for their kids. When you’re talking about that much debt, nobody escapes it.”
Schatz insisted that since federal spending has increased for a “conservative” $1.5 trillion, unpaid tax cut, a progressive idea such as his should be given consideration despite the hefty price tag of $95 billion. He named heavy hitters who will be co-sponsoring, including Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D–New York, Cory Booker, D–New Jersey, Kamala Harris, D-California and Elizabeth Warren, D–Massachusetts.
South Maui State Rep. and candidate for Congress Kaniela Ing voiced his support on Twitter, saying “Thank you @brianschatz for speaking some economic–and political–sense. If we can afford to bail out Big Banks and Wall st., then we can afford to help young people prevent the next crash. #MMT
After-all, our economy runs on spending, not stock buybacks”
Photo courtesy U.S. Senate