College For All?

By Amanda Boyer

College debt is one of the toughest and most persistent financial obstacles that students face. The rising cost has made college impossible for some students.

The Institute for College Access and Success reports that, as of 2015, the average college student in Illinois leaves a four-year college or university with an average of $29,000 in debt, which is ranked 19th in the country. In 2015, the average Quincy University student debt averaged $28,600 after graduation.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that, as of February 2017, U.S. citizens have racked up $1.31 trillion in student-loan debt.

As a result, the outstanding number and the effect of having young adults so far in a financial pit has gained some attention in politics over the past few years.

Now, affordable college education is becoming a reality.

On April 9, 2017, the state of New York became the first state to offer free four-year public college through the Excelsior Scholarship.

CNBC reports that the Excelsior Scholarship covers the cost of a four-year college education for students from 940,000 middle-class families and will be phased in over three years. By 2019, students from families that make up to $125,000 would be eligible to attend all State University and City University of New York colleges free of cost.

In order for students to receive the Excelsior Scholarship, they must be enrolled full-time, maintain a passing grade point average and work in the state of New York for the time that they attended college. There is no age limit to receive the scholarship and roughly 80 percent of New York state’s families would be eligible.

As New York was the first state to pass free tuition for four-year college students, San Fransisco, California, was the first city in the U.S. to make college available to all residents, regardless of income.

CNBC reports that the city approved a transfer tax on properties selling for more than $5 million to fund an education program that allows all city residents to attend the City College of San Fransisco tuition free.

If students want to take advantage of these resources, they need to have lived in San Fransisco at least one year.

Politicians are in the process of writing up legislation in order to expand upon these higher education opportunities in order to make it more affordable and accessible for possible students.

In the beginning of April 2017, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and a few other members of Congress introduced the bill, “The College For All Act.”

This act would aim to eliminate tuition and fees at public four-year college and universities for students from families that make up to $125,000 a year. This bill would, in turn, make community college tuition-free for all income levels.

For more information on, The College For All Act click here.

If you would like to see the full act in writing, click here.

If you’re interested in tracking the bill, click here.

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