Democratic presidential candidates are introducing ambitious plans to get more Americans into college without adding to the $1 trillion mountain of student debt
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The rising cost of a college education has contributed to the millennial generation being $1 trillion in debt - and Democratic presidential candidates are offering up policy solutions to offset the cost of college.
In April, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts introduced an ambitious $1.25 trillion plan to forgive most existing student loan debt and provide universal free college, paid for by a tax on the wealthiest Americans.
- Sens. Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Eric Swalwell, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang have proposed their own plans to reduce the cost of college and student loan burdens.
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The rising cost of a college education has contributed to the millennial generation being burdened with approximately $1 trillion in debt - and Democratic presidential candidates are offering their own policy solutions to offset the cost of college.In April, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts introduced an ambitious $1.25 trillion plan to forgive most existing student loan debt and provide universal free college, paid for by a tax on the wealthiest Americans. Advertisement
Other candidates, like Reps. John Delaney, Seth Moulton and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, have proposed student debt forgiveness or subsidized college for students who go into national service.
While the GI bill guarantees two years of free college for military veterans and has served as a gateway to a college education for generations, the Pentagon has recently reported that just 29% of young Americans are able to meet the physical and mental requirements to enlist in the military in the first place.Read more: American millennials are saddled with more than $1 trillion in debt - and student loans make up the biggest share
Despite President Donald Trump recently proclaiming he would address student debt, calling himself "very good on loans," his administration's newly-proposed 2020 budget would phase out a Bush-era program that created partial student-loan forgiveness for students who participated in national service and work in the government or non-profit sector, as PBS recently noted.To help open up access to college while also combatting the growing mountain of student debt, 2020 candidates are putting forward plans to increase alternative national service - and tying it to the issue of student debt."I'm incredibly pleased to see this issue getting attention at this point in the cycle, and I'm excited to see candidates recognize college affordability as an urgent matter that demands national attention," Kestrel Linder, the CEO of GiveCampus, a startup that helps colleges and universities raise money from alumni, told INSIDER in an April phone interview. Advertisement
"We have to do something, and we have to do something big, we can't make just incremental change right now," he added, noting that education is one of the most powerful drivers of economic and social mobility. "I don't think anyone can refute that making affordable college a reality would confer great benefits on our economy and society."
Here's a rundown of some of the presidential hopefuls' proposals.
Rep. John Delaney wants to offer scholarships for students who participate in national service.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to create "an expanded GI bill" to allow students who participate in national service to access free education.Advertisement
Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton also rolled out a plan to create more national service opportunities, and offer subsidized college tuition or job training for Americans who complete national service.
Sen. Bernie Sanders has advocated for more affordable education for decades, including making public college free.Advertisement
Rep. Eric Swalwell wants to introduce loan-free public college for students who do work-study and/or go into public service.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang wants to make two-year community college education free or extremely low-cost.Advertisement
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Brian Schatz are lead authors of the Debt Free College Act, which would provide financial incentives from the federal government for state universities to lower the cost of college and reduce the amount of debt students take on.
Long-shot presidential candidate Wayne Messam's signature policy proposal is to cancel all public and private student loan debt.Advertisement
Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke supports debt-free college, debt forgiveness, and loan refinancing for students who go into public service or other in-demand fields.
In an interview with Vice News, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg supported expanding access to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.Advertisement
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii was a co-sponsor of the version of Sanders' College for All bill introduced in the House.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar supports allowing students to refinance student loans at low rates, expanding Pell Grants, free two-year community college, and loan forgiveness for people who go into public service.Advertisement
Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently rolled out an ambitious new $1.25 trillion plan to cancel most existing student loan debt and offer free public college, paid for with a tax on ultra-wealthy Americans.
At a campaign stop in New Hampshire, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro supported making public university tuition and apprenticeship programs free or low-cost.Advertisement
Like Wayne Messam, Marianne Williamson supports student loan forgiveness, reducing interest rates, and free to low-cost community college and technical education.
At a recent campaign event in Iowa, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper called student debt "a drag on the economy," according to the Daily Iowan.Advertisement
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee recently enacted new protections for student borrowers and regulations for lenders in Washington, and wants to increase financial aid to make college more affordable.
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan is a vocal advocate for both debt relief and free college.Advertisement
California Sen. Kamala Harris co-sponsored Sen. Schatz's and Sen. Booker's Debt Free College Act. She also supports debt refinancing, simplifying federal financial aid, and income-based repayment for loans.
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