Updated: June 10, 2021 08:11 PM
Created: June 10, 2021 08:09 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — It's being called a landmark piece of legislation by advocates.
On Thursday, Congressman Joe Morelle (D, NY-25) announced his co-sponsorship on a bill that would expand access to higher education for everyday families and would put many college age students on a path to educational and economic security.
“America has always prided itself on being the land of opportunity where you can pursue whatever path you choose and be anything you want to be that's what we tell our children,” said Joseph Morelle, the democratic U.S. Representative for New York’s 25th District.
Rep. Morelle says not all families are in the position to chase the American dream, especially after COVID-19 where he says higher education enrollment has decreased.
“We discussed the pandemic's effect on higher education, the institutions, and the students and the difficulties that the institutions face in addressing the deep inequality that students face, particularly among low-income families and families of color,” Morelle said.
The congressman says rising tuition costs and expensive loans are some of the main factors, which is why he is introducing the College for All Act, which would ensure every student has access to free or reduced-cost higher education. The bill would eliminate tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities for those making up to $125,000 and makes community college tuition and fee-free for all.
“This is why I am excited about the college for all act because it creates a clear and debt-free pathway for our students who want to transition from our Rochester Educational Opportunity Center to a community college for public four-year college or university,” said Roosevelt Mareus, Dean and Executive Director of the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center (REOC).
Students from the REOC, like Precious Ross, says she would benefit from this type of help.
“I am a current license practical nursing student at the Rochester EOC. I will be completing my program requirements in just one week,” Ross said.
The soon-to-be Licensed Practical Nurse and mother of six children says the pandemic and a family tragedy paused her educational goals, but because of programs at the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center, she's almost over the finish line.
“I will be graduating with no debt from my nursing career, however, I still have student loan debt for a career that I am not able to utilize. Having the ability to possibly continue on for my registered nurse degree without the stress of loans or debt is amazing,” Ross said.
In regards to funding, the College for All Acts said it would be paid for by a “tax on Wall Street speculation.” Namely, a separate bill would impose a Wall Street speculation tax to pay for the Act through its activities, such as stock transfer taxes as well as small fees on bonds and derivatives. The proposed legislation says by imposing these taxes on Wall Street, could raise $2.4 trillion dollars over the next decade.
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