Doctor. Lawyer. Astronaut. Scientist. Inventor.
These, among many other options, are how every 10-year-old responds when a teacher poses them the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The children of America start with high hopes for the future, but many dreams are dashed as the reality of college sets in, or more specifically, how to pay for the necessary education to achieve such dreams. The majority of families in the US are unable to afford higher education and are either crushed under the weight of enormous debt or forego college entirely, settling for a mediocre career.
No more, says Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. In the 2016 presidential campaign, Sanders was a frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. His campaign revolved around his commitment to bettering the lives of working class families. One of his central and most effective elements of his campaign was his push for free college. In New York Becomes Only State to Offer Free Four-Year College, reporter Mary O’Hara cited Sanders:
“Higher education in America should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few,” Sanders said in an April 3rd statement. “If we are to succeed in a highly competitive global economy and have the best-educated workforce in the world, public colleges and universities must become tuition-free for working families and we must substantially reduce student debt.”
New York has already taken strides towards achieving Sanders’ goal: In her NBC article published last month, O’Hara states that New York has reportedly become the first state to offer free tuition through all SUNY (State University of New York) for any and all middle to lower class families who apply. She claims, “An estimated 80 percent of New York State’s families with college-age kids could use the new program. The governor’s estimate of 940,000 affected families does not include adult students entering college for the first time, who are also eligible.”
Many high school and college students showed support for Sanders during his campaign, as his College For All Act would benefit them the most. One senior from Westwood High School, Marco D’Angio stated, “Price was a big factor for me: if you can’t pay it off, you can’t go.” Thousands of students throughout the United States share D’Angio’s perspective: college is becoming more expensive every year, with some private institutions demanding upwards of $70,000 per year. This is simply impossible for the majority of incoming college freshmen.
Under our current presidency, chances for Sanders’ plan to come to fruition are slim, but there is still hope, for he, along with the support of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren and Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal, continue to advocate for free college, and with the recent developments in New York, it is only a matter of time before other states follow suit. To make this hope a reality, you can call your local senator (Westwood, MA: State Senator Mike Rush) and take the first step towards change.