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Clinton Reveals New Plan to Make College Tuition Free for Most Families

Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced an update to her college plan today that includes a phased-in approach to free tuition at 4-year in-state colleges for families with an income of less than $85,000 during the first year of implementation.  By 2021, free tuition would be provided to students of families making up to $125,000 annually.  The plan would cover over 80% of families and be fully funded by limiting certain tax expenditures for high-income taxpayers.

Prior to today, Clinton’s platform included plans for debt-free tuition and free community college tuition.  The decision to support free tuition at 4-year universities comes just weeks after she and Bernie Sanders met behind closed doors to discuss next steps in the Democratic Presidential race.  For the past year, Bernie Sanders has been calling for free college tuition at 4-year universities.

In May 2015, shortly after announcing his bid for the Presidency, Sanders introduced the College for All Act to eliminate in-state tuition for undergraduate programs at state universities.  A new transaction tax on financial trades proposed by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and co-sponsored by 35 additional House Democrats would partially fund Sanders’ plan for tuition-free college.

In the Inclusive Prosperity Act of 2015, Rep. Ellison makes the case for a new tax on the wealthy that would be used to “invest in our families and communities, improve our infrastructure and our environment, strengthen our financial security, expand opportunity and reduce market volatility.”

In 2015, both bills were introduced, read, and referred to the appropriate committees for further action.  Neither bill has reached the Senate or House Floor for a vote.

Although there is a growing movement to make college tuition free, there has been little progress.  In recent years, State Representatives across the country have introduced bills to slash tuition or tie tuition to median state income but very few have succeeded.

President Obama was inspired by programs implemented in Tennessee and Chicago that provided tuition-free community college.  In January 2015, Obama unveiled his plan for free tuition at community colleges.  Federal funding would cover 75% of the average cost.  States that chose to participate would provide the remaining funding.

In July 2015, Democrats introduced America’s College Promise Act (S.1716, H.R. 2962) to make Obama’s proposal a reality.  Democrats expected to garner bipartisan support on a bill that would help millions of college students and their families, but of over 100 co-sponsors, none were Republican.  Republican Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker said reducing college tuition was a state issue that shouldn’t be handled by the federal government.

It remains to be seen whether free college tuition will become a reality across the nation, but one thing is certain: while Obama, Clinton, and Sanders work hard to make college more affordable, Trump continues to take advantage of the poor and middle-class for personal gain.  There are ongoing class action lawsuits against Trump “University” that allege students were bankrupted by aggressive sales tactics and grossly high tuition fees.

An excerpt from Clinton’s New College Compact Plan seems to be directed at Trump: “Clinton will crack down on the abusive practices of for-profit colleges that defraud taxpayers while burdening students with debt for educational programs of no value.”

Read an excerpt from Clinton’s College Plan below and find more details at the following link:

The New College Compact: Hillary Clinton’s plan requires everyone to do their part.  The federal government will make a major new investment to make this possible, but states will have to step up and meet their obligations as well.

States will have to commit to a combination of reinvestment and reform over the next four years and beyond to ensure that federal support is funding students and not excessive cost growth.

  • Colleges and universities will be accountable for reining in costs to provide value to their students; improving completion rates and learning outcomes; and doing more to provide students from disadvantaged backgrounds with the tools they need to reach college and succeed once they get there.
  • Students will be expected to work 10 hours a week to help defray the full cost of attendance. Clinton will push to expand work opportunities that build career skills and introduce students of all backgrounds to public service careers.
  • As part of this New College Compact, Hillary will encourage and reward innovators who design imaginative new ways of providing valuable higher education to students while driving down costs.  And she will crack down on the abusive practices of for-profit colleges that defraud taxpayers while burdening students with debt for educational programs of no value.


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