S.672: Debt-Free College Act of 2019


The Debt-Free College Act of 2019 aims to cover all costs associated with attending college, including books, room and board, and supplies such as computers, which are more than twice as much as tuition, to create a debt-free college experience. To do this, the bill would establish state-federal partnerships and create a one-to-one federal match for state spending on higher education. This one-to-one grant is available to states that apply for the state-federal partnership.

To implement this, the legislation would mandate the creation of a new office within the Department of Education (ED) for the purposes of administering grants, monitoring compliance, conducting annual evaluations, providing technical assistance to states, and providing information to students in participating states. The bill requires that 95 percent of the grant funds be used to cover the unmet need for financial assistance to attend the institution of students who have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree, and is dispersed according to financial need. It specifically prioritizes students who qualify for Pell Grant funding.

S. 672 would also amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to extend Pell Grant eligibility to students who are Dreamer students, who are defined as students who came to the U.S. before 16 years of age and has provided a list of each secondary school attended in the U.S. Additionally, the student must have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent, already have a higher degree, or completed at least two years of coursework towards a bachelor’s degree. The legislation also repeals suspension of eligibility for Pell Grants for drug-related offenses.

College debt has increased 170 percent since 2006 and now exceeds $1.5 trillion dollars. Senate Democrats have expressed interest in adding this bill language to any upcoming Higher Education Reauthorization in the House, and Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Education Committee has endorsed the creation of a state-federal partnership and has expressed interest in adding this provision to a Senate version of HEA reauthorization.

H.R. 1571 is the House companion bill.

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Talking Points

  • Need-based assistance to students during a climate of rising tuition and cost of living would allow youth and families to have equal access to higher education.
  • Allowing Dreamers to access Pell Grants would help them thrive.
  • The National Assembly supports the Debt-Free College Act because it would provide equitable access to opportunity for many low-income families and students.

Our Stance




Bill Number


Date Introduced

March 06, 2019


Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

Bill Status

Introduced or Prefiled