Hillary caves, adopts Sanders' tuition-free college plan
In a likely effort to win over her rival’s supporters, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton rolled out a tuition-free public college proposal before a campaign stop Wednesday in Atlantic City.
While Clinton has maintained a promise throughout her campaign to make public college debt-free if elected president, her opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, has taken the idea one step further by vowing to make all public colleges tuition-free.
Now, following a meeting between the two candidates last month in Washington, CBS News reports that Clinton has adopted a variation of her staggering opponent’s tuition-free college proposal, adding it to the existing elements of her approach.
Under Clinton’s revised plan, prospective students from families with an annual income of $85,000 or less would be exempt from paying tuition at in-state public colleges or universities, a campaign aide told CBS. Over the next four years, the income requirement would increase by $10,000 annually, with that number capping out $125,000 by 2021.
Sanders has estimated that his tuition-free plan would cost $750 billion over a 10-year period, while Clinton has estimated that her debt-free plan would cost $350 billion over 10 years, but the Clinton campaign has yet to indicate where her revised proposal might fall on that spectrum.
"American families are drowning in debt caused by ever-rising college costs," Clinton said in a statement Wednesday. "It is imperative that the next president put forward a bold plan to make debt-free college available to all. My New College Compact will do just that—by making sure that working families can send a child or loved one to college tuition-free and by giving student debt-holders immediate relief."
Speaking to reporters Wednesday afternoon, Sanders praised the move as “very, very significant” and a “revolutionary step forward,” but continued to refrain from offering any sort of endorsement, even though Clinton has all but clinched the nomination.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Sanders is holding off on an endorsement until he sees Clinton come around on issues such as healthcare.
“He’s pretty clearly said in interviews that he is interested in seeing some progress on this topic [college costs] and on health care,” spokesman Michael Briggs told The Journal.
Clinton’s modified education proposal also includes a promise of “immediate” executive action to provide all indebted graduates with a three-month moratorium to sort out their repayment plans, as well as to restore Pell Grant funding for summer classes.
A Clinton aide did not respond to inquiries from The Journal about how much her new plan would cost or how she plans to pay for it.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski