Got student debt? Or a kid who’s ready to go to college—if only there were more money to spend on tuition? Maybe you have a governor who keeps gouging the state budget for public higher education?
Hillary Clinton’s New College Compact addresses all of it. A centerpiece of her campaign for president, it would make college debt-free, reduce existing student debt, and incentivize states to stop cutting funds for public colleges and universities.
Think of it: Colleges could have enough money to welcome all students to campus, regardless of their ability to pay. And they could fairly compensate their faculty—without relying on the exploitation of contingent faculty, those under-paid, under-resourced profs struggling to give their students the education they deserve.
Most of all, the compact is worth our attention because it creates opportunity for everyone. “I believe one of the single biggest ways we can raise incomes is by making college affordable and available to every American,” says Clinton. “Today, I’m laying out a plan to do just that.” Oh, and how to pay for it all? The $350 billion proposal would be covered by cutting tax deductions for the wealthiest Americans over the next 10 years.
Here are the compact basics:
- Tuition-free community college.
- Debt-free four-year college, through state funding, “realistic” family contribution and, in some cases, 10 hours of work each week.
- Grants for states that 1) halt disinvestment in public higher education, 2) ramp up investment over time and 3) work with public colleges and universities to reduce costs.
- Refinancing for existing loans at current interest rates, with interest capped at 10 percent of the borrower’s income.
- Significant cuts in student loans for living costs or private college—so that the government does not profit from them.
- Special help for modest-endowment private schools such as those serving large numbers of minority students (HBCUs!)—both to lower the cost of attendance and give students the support they need to get through graduation and beyond.
- Permanent extension of the $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit for middle-class families.
- Simplified student financial aid so people would actually enroll, rather than run away in confusion.
- Student academic support, quality childcare, emergency financial aid and other interventions to help students get to graduation.
- Special attention to career and lifelong learning and veterans’ education.
- Expanded AmeriCorps—and the corresponding debt forgiveness associated with it, since it qualifies as public service.
- Accountability for for-profit colleges that exploit students and punishment for breaking laws against deceptive marketing and fraud.
Hillary sums it up this way — “College is supposed to help people achieve their dreams. But more and more, paying for college is actually pushing people’s dreams further out of reach, and that’s just wrong.” She’s designed her compact to put those dreams back into focus.