The College for All Act would be fully paid for by the Tax on Wall Street Speculation Act, also introduced today by Sanders in the Senate and Lee in the House

Washington (June 14, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and seven Senate colleagues in introducing historic legislation that would open up the dream of a college degree to millions of working-class children across the country. As millions of Americans face uncertainty around their federal student loan debt, the College for All Act of 2023 allows students to attend public colleges and universities tuition- and debt-free. It also ensures that the vast majority of students who enroll at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) can attend tuition- and debt-free.

First introduced in 2015, the College for All Act of 2023 would be the most substantial expansion of higher education access since the Great Society and President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Higher Education Act of 1965. Joining Senators Markey and Sanders and Congresswoman Jayapal on the legislation in the Senate are Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

“Today, this country tells young people to get the best education they can, and then saddles them for decades with crushing student loan debt. To my mind, that does not make any sense whatsoever,” said Senator Sanders. “In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, a higher education should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few. It is absolutely unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of bright young Americans do not get a higher education each year, not because they are unqualified, but because their family does not have enough money. In the 21st century, a free public education system that goes from kindergarten through high school is no longer good enough. The time is long overdue to make public colleges and universities tuition-free and debt-free for working families. Education is one of the keys to a successful democracy and we must make it easier, not harder, for young people to obtain the degrees they have worked so hard for.”

“As millions of borrowers wait in limbo to see if the Supreme Court will allow President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan to lift millions out of debt, Congress must work to ensure that working families never have to take out these crushing loans in the first place,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “I’m proud to lead this legislation with Senator Sanders that would free students from a lifetime of debt and transform our country’s higher education system by ensuring that everyone can afford to pursue a college degree.”

This legislation would guarantee tuition-free community college for all students and allow students from single households earning up to $125,000 a year, and married households earning up to $250,000 a year, to attend college without fear of being saddled with student loan debt. If passed, the College for All Act would also:

  • Double the maximum Pell Grant award: $7,395 to $14,790 for the 2024-2025 school year for students enrolled at public and private non-profit colleges;
  • Establish a $10 billion grant program for states participating in the federal-state partnership to scale evidence-based practices and strategies;
  • Triple Federal TRIO funding from $1.191 billion in FY23 to $3 billion in FY24;
  • Double GEAR UP funding from $388 million in FY23 to $736 million in FY24; and
  • Double mandatory funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and other Minority-Serving institutions.

College for All is paid for by the Tax on Wall Street Speculation Act of 2023 – also introduced today by Sanders and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) – which puts a tax of 0.5 percent on stock trades, a 0.1 percent fee on bonds, and a 0.005 percent fee on derivatives and other financial instruments. Today, dozens of countries have imposed a financial transactions tax including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Switzerland, China, India, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Brazil. The U.S. also had a Wall Street speculation tax from 1914 to 1966. In 1914, the tax was 0.02 percent on sales or transfers of stock. In 1932, Congress more than doubled that tax to help finance the government during the Great Depression. Economic analysis on this proposal has estimated that it would raise $220 billion per year or well over $2 trillion over 10 years.

College for All Act of 2023

  • Read the bill summary, here.
  • Read the bill text, here.

Tax on Wall Street Speculation Act of 2023

  • Read the bill summary, here.
  • Read the bill text, here.
  • Read letter of support from 52 organizations, here.