100,000 signatures reached
To: President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Speaker John Boehner
Make Public College Tuition-Free
Create a plan to make public college tuition-free. Rather than continuing to pour billions more into financial aid programs that often fall short of tuition costs and leave students deep in debt, lead an effort to fund tuition-free public college. The money is there but the leadership isn't.
Why is this important?
Did you know that making college tuition-free would cost less than what we already spend on the patchwork of financial aid programs we currently support? According to a recent accounting taken by the U.S. Dept. of Education, the cost of making college free is $62.6 billion. That's less than one-10th of this year's $631 billion defense budget.
The level of college student loan debt exceeds the amount Americans owe on their credit cards – over a trillion dollars. And it's getting worse.
College graduates who borrowed for bachelor’s degrees granted in 2012 have an average student loan debt of $29,400, the highest average student loan debt ever on record. 70% of college seniors graduated with debt in 2012.
And that's just the fortunate ones who graduate. Only 56% of students who enter four-year programs graduate within six years. That number plunges to 22% for for-profit colleges. Meanwhile, the percentage of incoming students relying on loans is growing – from 47% in 2001 to 53% in 2009.
Public colleges currently enroll 75% of all higher ed undergraduates, so making public colleges tuition-free would alleviate a huge amount of that debt.
As a resident of one of America's prized college towns, Chapel Hill, NC, I constantly meet young people incurring huge amounts of debt to attend college and have their shot at the American Dream. This is just wrong!
Making public colleges tuition-free and preventing further debt isn't just a smart investment in our future -- it's less expensive than what our federal government spends to make college "affordable" now. It's a lot cheaper than the $69 billion we spent in 2013 on Pell Grants for low-income students, and work-study funding, without even including federal loan subsidies.
If we can afford to pour billions into wasteful defense programs and endless wars without hesitation, and subsidize big oil, big agriculture, and other corporate enterprises, we can afford to make public college education tuition-free. The time is now to demand that President Obama and congressional leaders make it happen.
If you sign my petition and demand a plan to make public college education truly affordable by making these schools tuition-free, it will help us build public pressure on national leaders to take action.