The College for All Act (S. 806/H.R. H.R. 1880), introduced in April 2017 by Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), would make community college free and eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities for students from families earning less than $125,000 a year — about 80 percent of the population. The bill also cuts student loan interest rates in half and allows student loans to be refinanced when interest rates drop. “This is the kind of legislation that can transform our students’ lives, that can help them access the higher education they need to realize their dreams, and to become the teachers, scientists, and entrepreneurs that our nation needs,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.
The Higher Education Act (HEA) is up for reauthorization in the 115th Congress. First passed in 1965 to ensure that every individual has access to higher education, regardless of income or zip code, the Higher Education Act governs student-aid programs, federal aid to colleges, and oversight of teacher preparation programs. NEA’s priorities for the next HEA include making college more affordable, enhancing access to higher education, improving teacher preparation, and recognizing educators as stakeholders.