Million Student March: Students Protest High Tuition Costs & Want Free Public College

The Million Student March, set to launch on Thursday across the United States, is a platform for students to protest rising student loan debt and demand free tuition in public colleges. They’re also rallying for raises in minimum wage for campus workers.

Reuters reports that the Million Student March emerged two days after thousands of fast-food workers gathered to push for a minimum wage of $15 an hour and union rights for workers in the industry.

The Million Student March is slated to be held at colleges and universities across the nation, from Los Angeles to New York, according to the report. Facebook groups received thousands of signatures from those intending to appear at the demonstrations, but it’s unclear how many will actually participate.

Organizers of the movement posted a bold statement on their website.

“Education should be free. The United States is the richest country in the world, yet students have to take on crippling debt in order to get a college education.”

Million Student March organizers are demanding action for tuition-free public colleges, an elimination of all student debt, and a minimum wage hike for campus workers at $15 an hour. According to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, outstanding U.S. student loan debt has more than doubled to $1.2 trillion — this is compared with less than $600 billion in 2006.

The bureau reveals that “some 8 million private and federal loan borrowers in default, representing more than $110 billion, while millions more are finding it difficult to keep up with repayments.” With college graduates swimming in debt totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, many struggle to make payments in addition to a failing economy and the ever-changing job market.

One of the pressing issues with presidential candidates for the 2016 election is piling loan debt. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has insisted that he wants to grant free tuition at public universities and colleges, while pledging to cut interest rates for student loans.

Hillary Clinton said she’d “increase access to tuition grants, let graduates refinance loans at lower interest rates, and streamline income-based repayment plans.”

GOP presidential hopeful and Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has taken the strongest stand of all Republican candidates running for president. He has vowed to establish “an income-based repayment system for federal student loans, and would simplify the application process for federal aid.”

According to RT, the Million Student March will take place on 106 college and university colleges across the country from Seattle and Florida to California and Vermont.

The organization decries that this is an “urgent crisis” and that “established politicians on both sides are failing to take action.”

According to a government study published in May on analysis statistics revolving around college loans, the average student debt in 2015 amounted to $35,000.

Keely Mullen is the student who founded Million Student March. She reportedly expects see a mountain of debt coming to $150,000 in loans after she graduates Northeastern University in Boston.

The Million Student March encompasses the belief that despite “colors, genders, and sexual orientation,” that students are banded together in order to “fight for education as a human right.” It’s a message heard loud and clear with social media seeing the hashtag, #millionstudentmarch.

As Million Student March gains momentum, it spawns big questions about whether this movement will bring about change. It’s uncertain if it’ll mark a new direction in bringing about tuition-free college education, or if it’ll increase the minimum wage for campus workers.

[Photo Credit: Million Student March / Facebook]

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