In contrast to the Republican plan to cut financial aid and make college more expensive for students, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is set to propose legislation that would give students free tuition at four-year public colleges and universities.
The Republican budget would end mandatory funding for Pell grants, the end of the in-school subsidy on Stafford loans, and the budget would also end income-based student loan repayment programs.
Sen. Sanders is going in the opposite direction.
In a statement, Sen. Sanders said:
We live in a highly competitive global economy and, if our economy is to be strong, we need the best-educated workforce in the world. That will not happen if, every year, hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college, and if millions more leave school deeply in debt.
Countries like Germany, Denmark, Sweden and many more are providing free or inexpensive higher education for their young people. They understand how important it is to be investing in their youth. We should be doing the same.
We used to lead the world in the percentage of our people who graduated college. Today we are in 12th place. We used to have great universities tuition free. Today they are unaffordable. I want a more educated workforce. I want everybody to be able to get a higher education regardless of their income.
Republicans are trying to make higher education less affordable. Their goal is to give people one less avenue for economic advancement. Sanders was correct. If the United States hopes to regain its status as the land of opportunity, a key piece to the puzzle is affordable higher education.
It is a tense time for students who are just graduating or still in school. The Republican-controlled Congress has targeted programs that aid students by making college more affordable for budget cuts. Sen. Sanders is making the line between the left and right clear. Democrats and the left are fighting to expand educational opportunities.
The contest on the left is a competition to see who can deliver a plan that will make college affordable for the most people. Republicans try to avoid any discussion of their plans by burying their cuts deep in their budget.
Bernie Sanders is shining a light on those plans while setting a new bar for the left for making college more affordable.