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Clinton: Go to college, let US pay for it

By Stephen Pounds ·
Monday, July 25, 2016
Posted: 6 am ET
Clinton: Go to college, let US pay for it

The Washington Post/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton wants you to go to college and she'll pay for it -- or at least part of it.
Not personally. Not even Clinton has that much money. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee put out a campaign platform earlier this month, outlining how the government would pick up the tab for college tuition.

Read: 3 terrifying student loan horror stories.

By 2021, families with income up to $125,000 will pay no tuition at in-state 4-year public colleges and universities. And from the beginning, every student from a family making $85,000 a year or less will be able to go to an in-state 4-year public college or university without paying tuition.
The plan would cover more than 80% of families, according to the Clinton campaign.

Elisia Howard, a college consultant in Seattle, says the program would cost $350 billion over 10 years.

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Some flaws with the plan

In addition to the huge cost, Clinton's proposal has some holes. It would be hard to get stingy Republicans to approve it, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and VP of strategy for, a financial aid website.

In addition, it doesn't account for the differences in appropriations and tuition costs among the states, where generally tuition has been rising, although it encourages states to "invest in higher education" and holds colleges and universities to control tuition costs.

It doesn't include the cost of books and room and board, which can be significant, Kantrowitz says.

"They seem to be characterizing it as an add-on, on top of existing federal student aid, so the federal Pell Grant may be used to pay for textbooks and room and board," Kantrowitz says. "I would not be surprised, however, if some of the states redirect state grant programs into paying for their share of the costs."

A Pell Grant is financial aid that the U.S. federal government provides to students in financial need to pay for college.

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Still, there is a need for a program like Clinton's. "State investment in higher education has been declining on a per-student, inflation-adjusted basis for decades. It is the primary driver of increases in public college tuition," he says.

Read: 7 do's and don'ts of student loans for millennials.

Details of Clinton college plan

Revising her New College Compact, Clinton floated an educational plan that had been offered earlier by former Democratic opponent Bernie Sanders.
As part of her plan, Clinton also would:

  • Offer a 3-month moratorium on student loan payments to all federal loan borrowers.
  • Make community colleges tuition free.
  • Allow borrowers to refinance student loans at current rates. Clinton says this would provide debt relief to an estimated 25 million people.
  • Significantly cut interest rates "so the government never profits from college student loans."
  • Push for a $25 billion fund to support historically black colleges, Hispanic institutions, and other minority-serving institutions.

"It is outrageous that young people are being asked to pay interest rates that are so much higher than interest rates to buy a house or buy a car or any other product," Clinton says. "You're going to be able to lower your interest rate."

Student loans a worry

Whether Clinton will make inroads with voters who are considering student loans or who have them already is uncertain, but the topic is on the minds of students.

A survey recently released by, a textbook price comparison site, found that students favor Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Clinton about equally – 13% to 12%.

According to the survey, 82% of students surveyed are concerned about student loan repayment, 63% of recent grads carry student loan debt and 56% of students at 4-year institutions carry some form of student debt.

"We now know that education loan debt is an ongoing worry for an overwhelming proportion of students," says Alex Neal, CEO of

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Miscow Jones
October 03, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Trump is gay

Percy Stricklin
August 30, 2016 at 7:36 am

During the Democratic primary, Sanders’ “debt-free” college plan for everyone gained traction and resonated with young voters. Clinton also sought to expand free tuition to many students, but her plan stopped short of making free public college available to everyone. Clinton argued that children of billionaires like Donald Trump shouldn’t have their college paid for by taxpayers. But Clinton — in an attempt to mend fences with Sanders — in recent weeks adjusted her $350 billion college affordability plan to ensure that families with incomes up to $125,000 would eventually pay no tuition for their children to attend public colleges and universities. That means more than 80 percent of families would qualify for the benefit when it takes full effect in 2021, her campaign said.

joe blow
August 06, 2016 at 4:12 pm

the tuition cost curve needs to be brought down substantially. more gov subsidies, which is what this is, for higher ed will only make things worse. we need to take a hard look at education and bring prices back down to what they were in the 70s on an inflation adjusted basis. why is it that congress has no problem questioning oil exes when prices at the pump go up but never question university presidents? out of control higher ed costs are causing far more damage to the economy and society than high oil prices ever did.

July 28, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Bill you talk about the harm and devastation Trump would bring to America. How about the 102 Top Secret documents on Hillary's private computer that was hacked and probably in the hands of Russia, China and Iran. I know and understand a Secret clearance I had one for 30 years until I retired. I knew exactly what was what. Hillary has done more harm to our country than Donald Trump could dream of doing.

July 28, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Just another way of trying to buy votes. Impossible to implement, control and fund. A lot interest loan is just that, a loan. You pay it back. There are thousands of programs for college students. We should also remember, college is not for everyone.

July 28, 2016 at 2:54 pm

First, let me say that I will be voting for Hillary Clinton in November because I cannot fathom the idea of Donald Trump as President and Commander-In-Chief. The harm and devastation he would bring to America, both domestically and internationally, would be enormous. That said, I do have concerns over free college tuition. Should the taxpayers pick up the tab for students who treat college as party time instead of preparation for a job and career; for students who flunk out after one or two years; for those who do not apply themselves and skirt by with a 2.0 GPA; for degree mills? As an alternative, how about government matching funds for earnings, either in-kind by working for the school or for other salaried positions. One does not appreciate things that they do not work for or, as the saying goes, do not have "any skin in the game"

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