Bernie Sanders: College for All

By Joe Elder, Emeritus Professor of Sociology/ Languages and Cultures of Asia/ Integrated Liberal Studies and Member of Wisconsin University Union (WUU)


Senator Bernie Sanders’ (Independent, Vermont) entry into the 2016 Democratic presidential race has introduced a fresh voice on higher education.

On May 6, 2015 Bernie Sanders introduced legislation to break up any too-big-to-fail financial institutions. He argues that using taxpayer funds to bail out failed financial institutions after Barak Obama became president in 2008 increased the gap between America’s richest and poorest. He believes that right now the six biggest banks in the US still have too much control over the US economy. They need to be broken down into smaller banks that are NOT too-big-to-fail … to be bailed out once again by taxpayer funds.

On May 19, 2015 Bernie Sanders introduced the “College for All” Act. He believes that free higher education for those who qualify and so desire should be a citizen’s right in the United States (as it is in countries like Denmark).

Bernie Sanders is appalled by the current estimated $1.3 TRILLION student-loan debts and accompanying years of so-called postgraduate “indentured servitude.” Furthermore, he has identified a source for funding the “College for All” Act. The needed funds could be generated by a 50-cent tax on every $100 of stock trades and stock sales in the United States. This tax has been nicknamed the “Robin-Hood tax,” since it takes from the rich and gives to the middle classes and the poor. If approved, the “Robin-Hood tax” would be a relatively simple tax to collect. Moreover, it would generate massive amounts of money taken from the middle of Wall Street’s everyday activities.

Bernie Sanders agrees that college is not for everybody. But he believes that every US citizen who wants a college education and is qualified for admission has a “right” to attend college. The passage of the “College for All” Act could be a significant step toward re-distributing America’s wealth, re-energizing America’s poor and middle classes, freeing college graduates from years of college-debt and “indentured servitude,” and shrinking the gap between the poorest and richest citizens in the United States.

See the summary of Sen. Sanders’ College for All Act Here.