Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton is expected to unveil a highly anticipated college affordability plan in New Hampshire on Monday that would increase access to tuition grants, allow graduates to lower interest rates by refinancing existing loans, streamline income-based repayment plans, and police predatory lenders.
Of the more than 40 million students and graduates in the United States, education debt amounts to a total $1.2 trillion, exceeding debt from credit cards, auto loans, or home equity lines of credit, the campaign said.
Mrs. Clinton will propose a new grant program that would be available to states that commit to a no-tuition guarantee at community colleges and a no-loan guarantee at four-year public colleges and universities, the campaign said.
The Clinton campaign asks that students, families, universities, states, and the federal government "do their part" to make it easier to attend college without taking on excessive debt, according to briefing documents.
By contrast, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida proposed a system in early July in which private investors could pay a student’s tuition in return for a cut of the graduate’s future earnings, The Christian Science Monitor previously reported, a concept known as “student investment plans,” “human capital contracts,” or "income share agreements." Senator Rubio is positioning himself as the GOP candidate considering conservative free-market solutions to social challenges.
Making college more affordable – and helping graduates and their families repay existing student loans – has been an early theme of Clinton's campaign since she launched her White House bid in April. Community colleges and technical schools are frequent campaign stops, and Clinton indicated she sees an expanded role for such programs in her work on behalf of the middle class, and lamented the high interest rates at which some graduates are repaying loans.
Monday's announcement is highly anticipated by progressives of the Democratic Party, who view college affordability as key to economic gains, freeing up graduates to buy homes and start businesses rather than be strapped by education debt. The issue is also important to young voters, whom Clinton will need to energize to win the general election in November 2016.
This report includes material from Reuters.