Credo Action

Reject Trump's education cuts. Demand debt-free college.

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Petition to Congress:

"Reject Trump's devastating proposed higher education cuts and instead pass the Debt Free College Act sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Mark Pocan."

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    Reject Trump's education cuts. Demand debt-free college.

    Donald Trump made his position on student debt very clear: He wants more young people to owe more money to his Wall Street pals.

    Trump's 2020 budget reveals his twisted priorities. It would slash funding for the Department of Education by $7.1 billion, eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, freeze Pell Grants, and hammer low-income and struggling students. Trump's higher education plan is Betsy DeVos's right-wing dream come true.1

    Progressives in Congress have a better idea: a bold, debt-free college bill.2 Republicans need Democratic votes to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. Democrats have leverage and must use it to resist Trump and aggressively push for debt-free college.

    Resist Trump's education cuts. Demand debt-free college.

    Today student debt has surpassed credit card debt and is second only to mortgage debt. It cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and is leaving an entire generation unable to afford homes, buy cars or save for the future. Black and Latinx students take on more in student debt and default at especially high rates – which means Trump's attack on higher education funding is yet one more attack on communities of color.3

    In contrast, progressive champions Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Mark Pocan's Debt-Free College Act would:4

    • Incentivize states to invest in college affordability through one-to-one matching grants for state higher-education funding. States spend $9 billion less on public college than they did a decade ago. Not only must students cover the difference, the weakening of low-price quality competition for expensive private schools contributes to the spiraling cost of higher education.
    • Give states the money only if they provide debt-free college for students – including non-tuition expenses like fees, books and housing. No longer should young people have to go into a lifetime of bondage to Wall Street banks or the federal government just to get an education.
    • Emphasize inclusivity and help for the hardest hit, forcing states to take care of Pell Grant recipients first and extending Pell Grant eligibility to Dreamers. It would also end discriminatory questions on financial aid applications that lead to confusion and keep many young people of color from receiving aid.

    The Senate must reauthorize the Higher Education Act in 2019, and Republicans will need the Democratic House of Representatives in order to do it. That means we have tremendous leverage to make the Debt-Free College Act part of that bill – if Democrats are willing to fight.

    Resist Trump's education cuts. Demand debt-free college.

    Right-wing conservatives defunded public state schools in order to hand lower taxes to billionaires and force students – especially students of color – to rely on Wall Street debt. As tuition and living costs increased, private universities no longer faced high-quality affordable competition, and their costs skyrocketed, too.

    The Debt-Free College Act is even bolder than free tuition plans in the past, because it recognizes that tuition is only 45 percent of the cost of college. The goal isn't just to bring down tuition, but to make college affordable instead of forcing marginalized communities into the hands of predatory lenders. That's worth a massive wave of public support – especially when Democrats have the political advantage to be daring.

    Resist Trump's education cuts. Demand debt-free college.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    References:

    1. Andrew Kreighbaum, "Trump Seeks Billions in Cuts," Inside Higher Ed, March 12, 2019.
    2. Ella Nielsen, "Progressives want to go further than tuition-free college — here’s their proposal to make it debt-free," Vox, March 7, 2019.
    3. Ibid.
    4. Ibid.