Clinton campaign's 'big ticket item': Tackling college debt

The Democratic frontrunner will announce Monday a plan to restructure student loans, expected to be the costliest of all her campaign proposals.

Jae C. Hong/AP
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a roundtable discussion on home care on Thursday in Los Angeles.

Young voters may soon have another reason to rally for Hillary Clinton, beyond her popularization among millennials as a girl boss.

The Democratic presidential frontrunner is about to make her biggest campaign policy announcement yet on her upcoming visit in New Hampshire, and this one will be all about college, reports Politico.

“This will be the big ticket item,” a source with knowledge of her rollout said.

Mrs. Clinton will also appropriate her largest federal budget investment to easing student debt, in hopes of creating a “mandate to act on college affordability” and garnering support among young voters, added the source.

One major proposal that’s expected involves creating a partnership between federal and state authorities to increase funding for public colleges. Clinton’s policy would establish an incentive system to reward states that allocate more money to higher education, several sources told Politico.

The goal would be to ultimately trigger further investment from the federal government and help bring down the costs of tuition overall. The former secretary of state’s ideas are not wholly dissimilar from President Obama’s own education initiative, said one source, who cited Race to the Top, a nearly $5 billion grant to the Department of Education.

But unlike her opponents for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont and Maryland Gov. Martin O’ Malley, “Clinton is not expected to go as far as some on the left want and call for ‘debt-free’ college,” reported The Washington Post.

How to reduce student loans will be a hot-button topic for many young people this election, as nationwide debt soars above $1.3 trillion, according to the Post.

The fact that Clinton is honing in on the issue is unsurprising, as the former secretary of state made student loan reform a focal point of her education platform when she ran for the presidency in 2008.

“Too many borrowers around the country are overly burdened or treated unfairly as they repay their student loans,” Clinton told The Chronicle of Higher Education in a 2007 interview. “The burden of student-loan debt alone can put people in economic handcuffs and force them out of important but low-paying professions, such as social workers, teachers, and police officers.”

“Clinton has not abandoned that concept,” reported the Chronicle, noting that her advisers are now weighing whether to draft another "bill of rights" for those paying off student loans.

Another key proposal would specifically help ease the burden for students attending historically black colleges, according to Politico. Clinton is also considering creating a risk-sharing system for schools, which would penalize them if students default or can’t repay their loans.

“It’s hard to relate the rise in cost to the actual product that has certainly changed somewhat but not so dramatically as to justify those costs,” she said during a Q&A session at Twitter’s headquarters, according to Yahoo News. “It’s going to take a lot of work because there’s a very strong institutional interest in keeping costs high.”

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