Bernie Sanders to Introduce Bill to Make College Tuition-Free

The Vermont senator cited several European countries as a model for the United States.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders will introduce legislation on Tuesday to make public college tuition-free in the United States.

"We live in a highly competitive global economy and, if our economy is to be strong, we need the best-educated work force in the world. That will not happen if, every year, hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college, and if millions more leave school deeply in debt," the Vermont senator and presidential candidate said in a statement released Sunday. 

The plan will provide tuition-free higher education to students at four-year colleges, the statement said, and is modeled after the way many European nations handle the costs of college. 

"Countries like Germany, Denmark, Sweden and many more are providing free or inexpensive higher education for their young people," Sanders said in the statement.  "They understand how important it is to be investing in their youth.  We should be doing the same."

The move could put added pressure on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who has yet to release her plan for higher education. A few weeks ago, campaign manager Robby Mook used the phrase "debt-free college," when discussing the issues important to young people, but Clinton has not yet said whether or not that would be a part of her plan. Sanders's move could stack this issue on top of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal as another issue awaiting comment from Clinton, in which more liberal Democrats are herding her to the left. 

President Obama continues to try and drum up congressional support for his plan to make community college tuition-free. 

“I want to lower the cost of community college to zero," Obama said earlier this month at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, South Dakota. "We can’t afford to let striving Americans be priced out of the education they need to get ahead.”

Sanders's statement said his bill will also seek to "substantially lower student debt and bring down interest rates on college loans."