Washington, D.C.– Today, Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), joined outside organizations, activists, and other CPC leaders in applauding the introduction of the Debt-Free College Act. The act was cosponsored by 23 Members of the CPC in the House and its Senate companion bill was introduced by Senator Schatz cosponsored by Senators Warren, Gillibrand, Booker, Harris, Merkley, Blumenthal, Baldwin, and Brown. The act was formally endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and multiple national organizations, teachers’ unions, and think tanks.
Student loan debt now exceeds $1.3 trillion. The cost of college has increased 300 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars over the past 30 years. The size of college debt nationwide is second only to mortgage debt and has surpassed credit card debt.
“A college education is essential for entering the middle class. However, more students than ever are graduating with crushing levels of debt, making it extremely difficult to get ahead. With the cost of college skyrocketing over the last 30 years, many Americans can no longer afford the tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and other expenses that a college education demands. We must end the reliance on debt as a way to finance a college education and the Partnerships for Debt Free College Act is a strong step forward in making this a reality. It’s time for us to rethink our approach to paying for college.” – Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02), CPC Co-Chair, Original Sponsor
“After the recession, states cut their investment in public education while college costs continued to rise. We’re at a point now where the full cost of college is more than twice as much as tuition, which is why solutions to the student debt crisis need to focus on the full cost to students and their families. My bill brings states back to the table and leverages federal dollars to reinvest in public education and help the people who need it most.” – Senator Brian Schatz, Sponsor of Senate Bill
"For too many people, cost is the biggest barrier to completing their degree, and those who do graduate are too often burdened with a mountain of debt. We should not be punishing people for enriching their minds. It’s time for the richest nation in the world to ensure all students can pursue their education, regardless of their income or family background." – Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-05), CPC Vice Chair, Original Cosponsor
“A college degree is proven to be one of the greatest indicators of future success, greater economic security, and opportunity. Due to soaring tuition rates and high costs of attendance, higher education opportunities are simply out of reach for working families—unless they incur massive amounts of debt. With the Debt-Free College Act, our students can finally graduate free from the chains of debilitating debt and can pursue their careers, open businesses, buy homes, and make their communities stronger.” – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), CPC Co-Chair, Original Cosponsor
"In the modern economy, access to an affordable education is essential to empowering every young person to reach their full potential. This bill will help provide that access to diverse communities across the country by incentivizing states to support students, and it will help address the soaring cost of higher education by encouraging states to reinvest in their public institutions. If we can afford to cut taxes for the wealthiest corporations in America, we can certainly afford to invest in helping hardworking students achieve the future they deserve." – Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CPC Vice Chair, Original Cosponsor
“Student debt has hobbled countless young people seeking a simple path to a better life – better jobs, economic security and opportunity. If we fail to make higher education affordable, we will fail the next generation. This bill is a vital step to reducing the burden students face in financing their educations and their futures and should be a congressional priority.” – Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Original Cosponsor
“Democrats should rally around debt-free college because it's not only a good policy but good politics. The sponsors of this legislation know that embracing big, bold, economic populist issues like debt-free college will inspire voters to head to the polls in November so Democrats can take back the House." -- Sarah Badawi, Senior Lobbyist, Progressive Change Campaign Committee
“It’s time we made the same promise to today’s students that we gave to previous generations – that you can pursue your dreams and work your way through school without fear of crushing debt. The Debt-Free College Act is the right approach that re-funds our public colleges and universities and does so in an equitable, inclusive way.” – Mark Huelsman, Senior Policy Analyst, Demos
The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is the largest caucus within the House Democratic Caucus, with over 70 members standing up for progressive ideals in Washington and throughout the country. Since 1991, the CPC has advocated for progressive policies that prioritize working Americans over corporate interests, fight economic and social inequality, and promote civil liberties. The CPC champions progressive policy solutions like comprehensive immigration reform, a $15 national minimum wage, fair trade, gun violence reform, debt-free college, and making the federal government a Model Employer.