To jumpstart our economy and provide pandemic relief, Congress & President Biden must make free college tuition a part of their pandemic relief package and first budget.
Fighting for free college is about more than keeping a campaign promise. We need free college tuition to help students who are struggling to survive, workers who need to be retrained, and families who are being crushed by the cost of college. A national free college plan will create a path for students, frontline workers, and ordinary people to get a tuition-free degree that will help them get a better job and live a better life.
Free college tuition programs have earned bipartisan support and are proven to be an effective tool for students to earn degrees with less debt. In Michigan, where Rise advocated for the bipartisan Reconnect proposal, more than 80,000 essential workers have already applied to get a free community college degree under a program created for essential workers. Expanding that program with a national strategy to serve all students can help reverse the declining enrollment at colleges and universities, especially among low-income students, and help workers prepare for a brighter future.
President Biden and many members of Congress campaigned on tuition-free college. During this time of budget challenges for most states, we need Congress and the President to act on Day 1. In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act bailed out state governments, but did not include strong provisions to protect students. Ultimately, tuition skyrocketed and added an additional $1 trillion in student loan debt to the economy between 2009 and today. We can’t afford another $1 trillion mistake.
Making free college tuition a priority on day 1–including in President Biden’s budget–is the first step to getting it done in Congress. With commitments from members of Congress and from the President to moving this proposal forward, we can work together to get this done.
Dear President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris,
CC: Senator Patty Murray, Senator Bob Casey, Senator Gary Peters, and Senator Manchin
I urge you to prioritize the needs of students in this country within Congress’s next budget or pandmeic relief package, by funding free college tuition for students attending community colleges, public universities, and Minority Serving Institutions. It is of utmost importance to ensure that within the next federal budget these items are maintained and not cut within negotiations.
Currently over 44 million Americans collectively owe over 1.6 trillion dollars in student debt, anchoring a generation of Americans from starting their lives and contributing to our economy. This debt follows people long after graduation. About 3 million Americans over the age of 60 are still paying off their student debt. The astronomical scale of this debt can only be matched with the positive transformational effect it’s elimination would have on American lives and the massive boom to the American economy.
It is also essential to fund tuition free public colleges and universities in order to ensure all Americans have equal access to the opportunities that higher education provides and that we never face another student debt crisis like this again. Tuition free colleges will provide every student with the choice of attending college on the basis of their merit and plans for their future, not the basis of their ability to pay. With an economy and job market that is shifting to require higher education, tuition free public colleges will remove barriers to creating a workforce that will match the 21st century .
In the face of a pandemic that has increased the struggles that students face, and shaken our economy now is the time to take bold action to address it. Please demonstrate your support for our students and our economy by eliminating student loan debt and funding tuition free public colleges.