Rep. Morelle details College for All Act in Rochester: ‘This is landmark legislation’


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Congressman Joe Morelle (D-25) was at the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center Thursday to announce plans to expand opportunities to higher education.

The congressman says The “College For All Act” would provide access to tuition-free higher education for millions of students.

“America has always prided itself as being the land of opportunity where you can pursue whatever path you want to choose,” Rep. Morelle said. “For too may Americans, the dream of pursuing higher education is out of reach. This is much different than it was when I was in school. Life seemed much simpler and certainly more affordable. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the challenge students are facing today.”

The congressman says the cost of college is preventing people from pursuing a degree.

“Not only is enrollment down across the board but the FAFSA app, which is the student assistance income assistance application among low income students, dropped dramatically in 2020,” Rep. Morelle said. “So without proper access to broadband, low income students faced heightened barriers in 2020. It’s so important we act now to ensure everyone has the opportunity to access a college opportunity if they so choose.”

The College for All Act would expand access to public higher education, the congressman said.

“This is landmark legislation, which ‘m proud to co-sponsor, which will provide tuition free community colleges, public, and trade schools like MCC and REOC here in our community,” Rep. Morelle said. “It will also provide tuition-free public four-year colleges for families earning less than $125,000 per year, so campuses like Brockport, Geneseo and the entire SUNY system. Additionally the bill would double the maximum Pell grant award, raising it just under $13,000 and make critical investment to uplift underfunded public institutions and reduce the inequality and inequities

Joining the congressman for Thursday’s press conference was:

  • Roosevelt Mareus, Dean and Executive Director of the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center
  • Heidi Macpherson, President of SUNY Brockport
  • DeAnna Burt-Nanna, President of Monroe Community College
  • Students from REOC

“Many of our students who want to go to college actually do not because they don’t want to graduate with student loan debt,” Mareus said. “This is why I am excited about the College for All Act because it created a clear and debt free path to our students.”

“The College for All Act ensures equitable access to college and career opportunities leading to families sustaining wages,” Burt-Nanna said. “It would remove barriers facing a lot of our student body that would prevent some of them from being able to persist and achieve their educational goals.”

The College for All Act was introduced into Congress on April 3 by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The legislation would eliminate tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities for families making up to $125,000 – about 80 percent of the population – and make community college tuition- and fee-free for all.

According to Sen. Sanders, “the estimated $600 billion cost of the legislation would be paid for by a separate bill to tax Wall Street speculation. By imposing a small Wall Street speculation tax of just 0.5% on stock trades, a 0.1% fee on bonds and a 0.005% fee on derivatives, the tax would raise at least $600 billion over the next decade. More than 1,000 economists have endorsed a tax on Wall Street speculation and some 40 countries have already imposed a tax.”

Full press conference:

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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