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Lawmakers in Ten States Push for Debt-Free College

University of Missouri President Resigns As Protests Grow over Racism
Michael B. Thomas—Getty Images Students walk about on the campus of University of Missouri - Columbia on November 9, 2015 in Columbia, Missouri.

Progressives continue to push for more public education spending

Local lawmakers in ten states including New Hampshire, Iowa and Massachusetts announced a new push for legislation on Monday to make attending public colleges in their states debt-free.

The state legislators are introducing different pieces of the debt-free college agenda as well as resolutions and study committees. The effort is part of a national campaign among progressives to make college more affordable, a push that has swayed the Democratic candidates for president.

“From New Hampshire to Iowa, and all across the nation, voters want students to be able to graduate from college without debt,” said Kayla Wingbermuehle, campaign director of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, the organization spearheading the effort.

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton has called for a $350 billion proposal that would make public universities debt-free across the country. Her plan involves allowing students to refinance their loans and cutting interest rates, requiring states to increase investment in higher education and providing grants to the states. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has also called for tuition-free college.

Many of the Republican candidates for president have called for more accountability at public colleges, and less federal involvement in tuition.

The national college debt has skyrocketed in recent years, with Americans holding more than $1.3 trillion in outstanding college loans, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve. Economists say the debt burden hurts young Americans’ buying power and drags on the economy.

The lawmakers introducing legislation in their states are State Rep. Kaniela Ing (HI), State Rep. Chris Hall (IA), State Rep. Paul Mark (MA), State Sen. Maria Chappelle Nadal (MO), State Rep. Stephanie Howse (OH), State Rep. Marjorie Porter (NH), State Rep. Will Guzzardi (IL), State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (SC) and State Rep. Katrina Shankland (WI).

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