On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton announced an expansion of her college plan that would offer free college tuition at public schools for families making up to $85,000 per year, with that number eventually increasing (by $10,000 per year) to $125,000 by 2021.
“American families are drowning in debt caused by ever-rising college costs and it is imperative that the next president put forward a bold plan to make debt-free college available to all,” said Clinton in a statement.
The plan, which Bernie Sanders called “a revolutionary step forward,” doesn’t differ all that much from that of her former/“current” Democratic opponent—Sanders had put forward a more expensive plan that would totally eliminate tuition at all public colleges. It remains unclear how either plan would be funded, as well as exactly how many individuals would benefit from it.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Clinton would also include a proposal for a three-month hiatus for student loan repayments:
“I want everyone to be able to refinance your student loans so you never have to pay more than you can afford and for people who go into public service, and I include teaching because it is the first and primary public service,” Clinton said at the National Education Association meeting in Washington. “Any remaining debt after you refinance will be forgiven after 10 years.”
Student borrowers could defer loan payments for three months under a reprieve she is promising to impose through the unilateral power of the presidency if she wins the election and becomes president next year. The proposal is expected to cost the federal government more than $1 billion, not because of the short hiatus but because of the lost interest when borrowers refinance to cheaper loans. Some of the cost could be defrayed by greater economic participation by borrowers, such as starting businesses or buying homes.
“I want to take this opportunity to applaud Secretary Clinton for the very bold initiative she has just brought forth today for the financing of higher education,” said Sanders in his own statement.
“This proposal combines some of the strongest ideas she fought for during the campaign with some of the principles that I fought for. The final product is a result of the work of both campaigns. Let me be very clear. This proposal, when implemented, will revolutionize the funding of higher education in America, improve the economic future of our country and make life immediately better for tens of millions of people stuck with high levels of student debt.”
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