Over the past week, four different proposals have been released that share a common goal: to make college affordable and accessible and prevent students from having to choose between obtaining higher education and going into debt, which has lifelong ramifications for many borrowers. All four proposals, the College for All Act, the Debt-Free College Act, the Americaâ€™s College Promise Act, and the American Familiesâ€™ Plan (AFP) free community college proposal represent significant progress on the issue of college affordability, providing a critical complement to the important efforts to cancel student debt. They are a testament to the hard work that advocates have put into ending the student debt crisis and addressing its root causes.Â
Most recently, the Biden-Harris administration released its American Families Plan (AFP), which proposes a new federal-state funding partnership, increases Pell grant funding, and makes significant investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). Importantly, the AFP would make public community colleges free for students, while providing two years of subsidized tuition at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs, a critical first step towards President Bidenâ€™s campaign commitment to achieve four years of debt-free higher education.
Charlotte Hancock, senior director at Generation Progress, issued the following statement on the release of the proposals:
â€œFree college and student debt cancellation are critically needed and must go hand in hand to solve the student debt crisis. The recent windfall of affordability proposals is the result of the energy and momentum behind the movement to make college affordable, cancel student debt, and end the student debt crisis. All four proposals are based on a federal-state partnership, which is essential to addressing state disinvestment in public higher educationâ€”a primary cause of the crisis that the country faces today. They also all address the fact that students and borrowers of color have been disproportionately impacted by the student debt crisis by including crucial investments in historically underfunded HBCUs, minority-serving institutions, and community colleges, and expanding financial aid eligibility to DREAMers.Â
Young people have been at the forefront of the fight to end the student debt crisis, and should take pride in the progress that these bills represent. The Biden-Harris administration should view the College for All Act and the Debt-Free College Act as signs of support for the promises made during the campaign, use executive action to cancel student debt, and work with Congress to enact legislation that allows every student to access the degree or certification thatâ€™s right for them without financial barriers.â€
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