Jumpstart is proud to endorse the Debt-Free College Act, a landmark piece of legislation that comprehensively addresses the rising costs of college and ensures that no student graduates from a public college carrying debt.
Introduced by US Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii and US Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and cosponsored by 30 members of Congress, the Debt-Free College Act addresses one of the largest obstacles for the many young Americans seeking to find employment, build homes, and begin their lives: student debt. Currently, Americans hold over $1.3 trillion in college debt, hindering millions of individuals. And wages for teachers are falling, even as college tuition prices and loan amounts are rising, leading to an ever-increasing debt burden for educators.
This important legislation would create a voluntary federal–state partnership whereby participating states would receive a dollar-for-dollar federal matching grant to pay the full cost of public college for students, eliminating the students’ need to take on any debt themselves to afford school. Using these grants, colleges and universities would cover the full cost of attending college—not only tuition, but also living expenses, meal plans, and books. Students would first apply for and receive any need-based federal student grants, such as Pell Grants, and then schools would cover any remaining expenses, ensuring no student takes on debt in order to earn an education.
The Debt-Free College Act addresses head on the affordability crisis facing today’s college students and the future early education workforce. As Jumpstart has learned from engaging thousands of college students in service each year, many students struggle to afford college and all of the associated expenses and quickly become saddled with debt after graduating. Early educators, who receive wages significantly below their elementary school teacher counterparts, face unsustainable futures, unable to make ends meet between low salaries and high debt. This important legislation gives these students the opportunity to pursue careers in service to others without incurring any student debt.
Jumpstart works toward the day when every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed by training college student volunteers to deliver evidence-based programming in preschool classrooms across the country. In alignment with Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Through Kindergarten Preparedness: Jumpstart’s Policy Principles, this legislation introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives invests in our nation’s future workforce and our nation’s economy, setting students free from the massive weight of student debt. Jumpstart is proud to join other national advocacy organizations including the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Education Trust, the National Education Association, and the American Federation of Teachers to endorse this landmark legislation for students.