Clinton To Roll Out College Affordability Plan Today
Credit: Hillary Clinton
August 10, 2015

Clinton will begin talking about her plans today and throughout the week at campaign stops. Via Bloomberg:

Hillary Clinton plans on Monday to begin rolling out one of the biggest-ticket policy proposals of her presidential campaign, a $350 billion plan aimed at reining in the ever-growing cost of college and help millions of borrowers struggling to repay student loans manage their debt.

Drawing on many of the same ideas and advisers on which President Barack Obama built his college affordability agenda, Clinton’s proposals—to be formally unveiled at campaign stops in New Hampshire on Monday and throughout the rest of the week—include federal incentives for states to boost their spending on public higher education, options for students to graduate from state colleges and universities without taking out loans, and pushing for a program to help borrowers refinance existing debt first pitched by Obama.

If Clinton is elected, this slate of higher education proposals would be a top priority in the first year of her administration, said a campaign official who declined to speak on the record before Clinton formally announced her proposals. Most of the programs would require congressional approval, as would the campaign's preferred way of funding them, by capping the value of itemized tax deductions for the wealthy.

The Democratic front-runner’s pitch will likely satisfy many education advocates on the left, and allow Clinton to offer a detailed plan to the many voters voicing concerns about student debt and college affordability on the campaign trail. Nearly seven in 10 of those graduating from college take out student loans and total student debt owed in the United States exceeds $1.3 trillion.

At the same time, Clinton's seizing of the college affordability issue could turn Republican presidential hopefuls—especially Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Governor John Kasich of Ohio, and former Governor Rick Perry of Texas—into prime targets of her campaign. All three oversaw cuts in state higher education funding, though Kasich earlier this year proposed increasing state higher education funding and tuition.

The so-called New College Compact is designed to do the same thing for higher education that the Affordable Care Act did for health care, bending the cost curve, and requiring that non-educational costs—expenses like marketing a university or building a new football field—compose a smaller percentage of an institution’s spending.

Dueling Democratic Proposals
Clinton’s proposals are more targeted—and less expensive—than those put forward by her top opponent for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who in May put forward the College For All Act, which would eliminate undergraduate tuition and fees at all public colleges and universities, with the federal government pitching in two-thirds of the funding and one-third coming from the states. But his approach has drawn criticism from some student advocates, including the influential Institute for College Access and Success, because it would not provide support for students struggling with their living expenses. In all, it would cost $750 billion over a decade, funded by new taxes on Wall Street.

Another contender for the Democratic nomination, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, is proposing making attendance at in-state public college and university debt-free for all Americans. His campaign hasn’t yet estimated how much his proposal would cost or decided on how to pay for it, spokeswoman Haley Morris said.

The Clinton campaign sees its proposal hitting a strong middle ground for the left, meeting the standards set by Demos and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, two groups with close ties to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren while coming in at less than half the cost of Sanders’s pitch.

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