Top 10 National Policy Issues

In today’s high-tech, global economy, education provides young Americans increased opportunity to enter the workforce and establish pathways toward rewarding careers.  Because a well-educated workforce is essential to economic progression and the running of a modern society, it is in the best interests of the government to invest in the education of the nation’s future workforce. 

Public schools in the United States provide free tuition for kindergarten through 12th grade, funded primarily from local and state taxes.  A growing movement, mostly of young Americans, is advocating for extending free tuition beyond 12th grade.  There are over 18 million students enrolled in the United States at nearly 5,000 colleges and universities, charging as much as $40,000 a year for tuition fees, not including living expenses.1  On average, it is 400% more expensive to go to college today than it was 30 years ago.1  According to Mark Kantrowitz, the average student debt for the class of 2015 is about $35,000.2 

The crushing debt and rising tuition costs are becoming increasingly burdensome to new college graduates and may deter some from pursuing college educations.  Rising college tuition costs will adversely affect lower income families disproportionately, creating more permanent socio-economic divides between social classes in the United States.  However, opponents of free college education argue that an influx of federal money may encourage administrators to increase the spending per student, increasing the overall cost of tuition.3  By offering free tuition to upper and middle class students, compounded by the increase in student applications which would accompany free tuition, rationing of strained public budgets would ultimately result in less resources for those who truly need financial assistance as well as a lower quality in education overall.3  Finally, free education is not free, it simply shifts the costs from the student to the taxpayer.3  Rather than recent graduates living frugally to pay off their personal school debts in a few years, they’ll be paying increased taxes for the rest of their lives to cover the tuition costs of all who follow.     

116 Shocking Facts About Student Debt And The Great College Education Scam
2Class of 2015 has the most student debt in U.S. history
3Should College be Free?

Congressional Record – Senate
January 21, 2016
Debt-Free College

Congressional Record – House
April 22, 2015
Debt-Free College

Congressional Record – House
January 9, 2015
Funding College Education for All

S.Res.143 - A resolution supporting efforts to ensure that students have access to debt-free higher education
Sponsor:  Sen. Schatz, Brian [D-HI]
Introduced:  04/21/2015
Committees:  Senate - Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Action:  04/21/2015 Referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Introduced in Senate:  (04/21/2015)

Summary:  Expresses support for efforts to:

  • ensure that all students have access to debt-free higher education upon graduation from public institutions of higher education;
  • provide support to states to make increased investments in higher education that will result in lower tuition and costs for students;
  • increase financial aid to help students afford attending college without taking on debt;
  • encourage innovation by states and institutions of higher education to cut costs for students and make college more affordable by increasing efficiency and enabling speedy and less-costly degree completion; and
  • reduce the burden of existing student loan debt.

H.R.4385 - College for All Act
Sponsor:  Rep. Grayson, Alan [D-FL-9]
Introduced:  01/13/2016
Committees:  House - Education and the Workforce
Latest Action:  03/23/2016 Referred to the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training.

Summary:  This bill directs the Department of Education (ED) to award grants to states to eliminate tuition and required fees at public institutions of higher education (IHEs).

It also amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to:

  • modify provisions related to interest rates on federal student loans to revise rates applicable to new loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2016;
  • allow student loan borrowers to modify interest rates on outstanding federal student loans to current rates;
  • reauthorize the Federal Work Study program for FY2017-FY2021;
  • eliminate existing base guarantees of Federal Work Study funds to IHEs and require funds to be allocated based solely on the aggregate need of the institution’s students;
  • authorize ED to establish a pilot program to streamline the federal financial assistance application process and reduce the need for students to apply for financial assistance each year; and
  • require ED to use tax information from the second preceding tax year (the “prior, prior year”) to determine a student’s financial aid eligibility.

Issue Topic

Free College Tuition

Polling question

Should the federal government cover the costs of college tuition?

Yes, Strongly Agree
Yes, Agree
Neutral / No opinion
No, Disagree
No, Strongly Disagree


President Trump has never advocated for debt-free college education programs.  However, he has been a proponent for relieving the current generation of the financial burdens accrued from skyrocketing college debt.  Speaking to a Ohio crowd in October 2016, Trump stated that we have to “make sure that those who have graduated college and those who are soon to graduate can find a good job to start a good career when they do…  First, we will lower the cost of college and solve the student loan crisis… Tuition at public four-year institutions was 40 percent higher in the last school year than it was 10 years ago.”1  Trump also stated that too many young Americans leave college buried in debt.  “Students should not be asked to pay more on their loans than they can afford, and the debt should not be an albatross around their necks for the rest of their lives…  That is why under my student loan program, we would cap repayment to an affordable portion of a borrower’s income–12.5 percent and if borrowers work hard and make their full payments for 15 years, we will let them get on with their lives.”1

1Donald Trump Proposes Detailed Plan to End College Debt Crisis

National results

Total Middle School and High School Respondents: 2

Total Voting Age Respondents: 27

Issue Poll Summary:

Political followings



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