US Students Hold Nationwide Protests Against High Tuition Fees

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Above Photo: Graduating students listen to U.S. President Barack Obama speak at the University of Michigan commencement ceremony in Ann Arbor, Michigan May 1, 2010. Reuters.

Students at more than a hundred colleges and universities held marches on Thursday in support of free tuition Students from over 100 US universities staged demonstrations on Thursday protesting against the growing cost of university tuition and student debt.

The campaign, dubbed the Million Student March, consists of three demands: liquidation of all student loan debt, a national minimum wage of $15 an hour and tuition-free public higher education.

“We are high school, college, and graduate students, recent graduates, campus workers, former students, parents, and grandparents uniting in a day of action on November 12, 2015, to demand tuition-free public college, cancellation of all student debt, and a US$15 minimum wage for all campus workers,” the activists said on their website, Studentmarch.org.

Thursday’s protests take place in the midst of growing concern about college affordability and student loans, which more than many other other issues, is expected to influence young voters to go to the polls to elect a president in 2016.

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders is said to support the movement. The candidate’s presidential platform includes tuition-free public colleges and universities.

Meanwhile, last August, fellow democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton outlined a US$350 billion college plan that did not go quite as far as Bernie Sanders’ proposal to make public higher education tuition free and debt free. Her plan would make community colleges free, while ensuring that students with loans would not be required to pay more than 10 percent of their income in debt payments.

The United States has one of the largest college-educated populations among developed countries, but the cost of higher education is the highest across all the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.

Over the last decade, tuition at four-year public universities has risen by 42 percent, and student debt totals nearly US$1.3 trillion, according to the College Board.