(Host) Congressman Bernie Sanders is backing efforts to help make college education more affordable for thousands of Vermont families. Sanders, who’s running for the U.S. Senate, says the plan is needed because roughly 70 percent of Vermont students take out loans to go to college. The average student has more than $20,000 in outstanding loans when they graduate. Vermont’s student debt obligation is the highest of any state in the country.
Under Sanders’ plan, recent interest rate increases for college loans backed by the Bush administration would be substantially reduced. Sanders says this one proposal would cut the average student’s debt by almost $6,000. Sanders is also backing a plan to increase the size of grants available under the federal Pell Grant program from $4,000 a year to more than $11,000.
Sanders says he would pay for the programs by rolling back tax cuts for wealthy people:
(Sanders) “What we’re putting up is a sign to the middle class saying, Sorry your kids can’t go to college, or your kids are going to graduate deeply in debt. Hundreds of billions of dollars, says the president, is ok for tax breaks for the wealthiest one percent but we can’t come up with the $15 or $20 billion that we need to make college education more affordable for the middle class. And again, this is a set of priorities that is almost impossible to comprehend.”
(Host) Sanders hopes to attach his plan as an amendment to the Health and Human Service Appropriations bill when Congress returns to Washington next month.