Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand?: Bernie Sanders

Advance CTE is posting a series of blogs on each 2020 presidential candidate who has released an education or workforce development platform and is polling above one percent. Check back for the next blog in this series, and catch up on previous posts!

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign platform places importance on increasing equity and access in postsecondary attainment. This is outlined in his “College for All” plan that would make all public colleges and universities tuition free and cancel all existing student debt. Some of the strategies to achieve this include: 

  • Make Public Colleges, Universities and Trade Schools Free to All
    Sanders commits to passing the College for All Act that would allocate at least $48 billion annually to cover tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities, tribal colleges, community colleges, trade schools and apprenticeship programs. 
  • Make College Debt-Free for All
    Sanders outlines a number of measures that he would take as president to ensure that students graduate college without debt, such as providing Pell Grants to cover all non-tuition fees and expenses. He would also require participating states and tribes to provide funding to low-income students for any remaining college costs. The federal government would then match any of the additional fees that are funded by states and tribes. Sanders also makes the campaign promise that he would cap student loan interest rates at 1.88 percent. Finally, Sanders states that he would triple the funding for the Federal Work-Study Program. This would allow the program to grow from serving 700,000 students to 2.1 million students. Funding would be targeted to colleges that have large numbers of low-income students enrolled.  
  • Invest in Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions
    In his platform, Sanders commits to putting $1.3 billion into private, non-profit Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). This funding would either eliminate or reduce tuition and additional fees. 
  • End Equity Gaps in Higher Education Attainment
    Sanders calls out the need to support students before and during college so that they can be successful. Sanders plans to do this by doubling the funding for Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO) and increasing the funding for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). This expanded funding would allow 1.5 million students to participate in TRIO and GEAR UP participation to grow by over 100,000 students. 

Sanders also outlines a “Jobs for All” proposal that would essentially be a guarantee from the federal level that each individual is able to have a stable job that pays a living salary. The campaign also promises to create 20 million jobs, coinciding with the Green New Deal, that would be needed to build infrastructure and create a sustainable energy system. New jobs would also be created in healthcare services and early childhood education.  

To learn more about Sanders’ education and workforce development plans you can check out his campaign platform.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate 

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