A First Step, But We Have to Do More on Student Debt

The president’s decisionto reduce the outrageous level of student debt in our country is an important step forward in providing real financial help to a struggling middle class. Today’s announcement to reduce up to $10,000 in student debt for working class Americans and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients will eliminate student debt for some 20 million Americans and reduce debt for some 43 million. The result of this decision is that millions of Americans will now be in a better position to start families, or buy the homes and cars they have long needed. This is a big deal.

But we have got to do more. At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, education, from pre-school through graduate school, must be a fundamental right for all, not a privilege for the wealthy few. If the United States is going to effectively compete in the global economy we need the best educated workforce in the world, and that means making public colleges and universities tuition free as many other major countries currently do – and that includes trade schools and minority-serving institutions as well. In the year 2022, in the wealthiest country on earth, everyone in America who wants a higher education should be able to get that education without going into debt.

Bernie Sanders is a US Senator, and the ranking member of the Senate budget committee. He represents the state of Vermont, and is the longest-serving independent in the history of Congress.