If Hillary Clinton has her way, more students will graduate from a public college or university in their state debt-free. In fact, more than 80 percent of families would pay no tuition at in-state four-year campuses under the Clinton plan. I couldn’t be more thrilled that so many smart and talented young people could have the opportunity to realize their dreams.
“American families are drowning in debt caused by ever-rising college costs and it is imperative that the next president put forward a bold plan to make debt-free college available to all,” Clinton said last week.
Bernie Sanders immediately pronounced Clinton’s proposal “very bold.”
“This proposal combines some of the strongest ideas she fought for during the campaign with some of the principles that I fought for. The final product is a result of the work of both campaigns,” Sanders said, adding that the proposal would “revolutionize the funding of higher education in America, improve the economic future of our country, and make life immediately better for tens of millions of people stuck with high levels of student debt.”
Hillary Clinton recognizes that the potential of any student in our nation is too precious to go unrealized. That’s why, after her inspiring address at the 2016 Representative Assembly in Washington D.C., delegates, voted to throw our support behind her. We will do all we can to get out the vote for this historic candidate on November 8.
The issue of college affordability has special significance for me. I remember running into my former students in Salt Lake City in the years after I taught them, and I was always excited to hear what they’d been up to in the subsequent years.
Some pursued education after high school and were making progress toward the dreams they’d talked about in my classroom. But others hadn’t been able to follow through on their idealistic plans. The high cost of college put post-secondary education out of their reach. That always made me sad – not just for them, but for our nation.
When I went to college way back in…well, let’s just say in an earlier time, it was tough enough for me to work my way through school. But now, it’s almost impossible – loans are nearly as much of a requirement as the ACT or SAT. That’s why Clinton’s New College Compact represents such a gigantic leap forward. Her plan would also include restoring year-round Pell Grant funding so students have financial support throughout the year, even during the summer.
She would also take immediate executive action to offer students with college debt a three-month moratorium on repaying loans. During that time, they would be able to consolidate loans, sign up for income-based repayment plans, and take advantage of other ways to reduce interest payments and fees. (Resources to help you deal with student loan debt are available on the Student Loan Help pages of the NEA website.)
Hillary Clinton’s “very bold” move gives NEA members yet another reason to say proudly: We’re with her!