Clinton, Democrats Tout Free College Tuition Plans

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

Throughout the Democratic National Convention, supporters of Hillary Clinton spoke about many ways to make higher education more affordable, including plans for free college tuition and reduced interest rates on current college loans.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s plan would offer students coming from a family who makes less than $125,000 the chance to attend a public university without paying tuition.

Reports from the White House state that there is currently more than one trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt.  The new plan would allow students and graduates to refinance their current debt at a lower interest rate.

Clinton said that funding for her plan would be provided by taxpayers at a higher income level.  Certain tax expenditures would be restricted by the government for citizens at a higher income level in order to cover tuition costs, reports Modupe Idowu for 15TV.

However, not everyone sees the plan’s feasibility.  Congressman Bradley Byrne, who previously served as Chancellor of Alabama’s Community College System, argues that it simply would not work.

“First of all, what I understand the price tag for this is somewhere around $450 billion,” said Byrne.

“These are the same sort of tax cuts the Republicans want to use, to do away with them,” said Byrne. “And then lower everybody’s tax rates which would benefit everybody whether you’ve got children in college or not.”

Byrne went on to say that interest rates on student loans are getting too high, and something needs to be done to bring them back down to a manageable level.

“That’s one of the more common sense things that she’s been talking about,” said Byrne. “This is something we’ve already been discussing in the Education Workforce Committee in Washington.”

Under Clinton’s plan, community college tuition would be free as well.  In addition, year-round Pell Grants would be restored.

Meanwhile, Tyler Kingkade writes for The Huffington Post that while Clinton’s plan is a start, it would not cover the majority of the costs associated with attending college.  He suggests that for the average in-state student living on campus at a four-year public university, 61% of educational costs come from mandatory expenses other than tuition, such as housing.

Public colleges typically require students to pay for internet, library, and recreational facilities, as well as mandatory fees that support school sports teams.  Students who live on campus are normally required to purchase a meal plan, averaging a cost of $7 to $10 per meal.  Housing costs to live on-campus can easily go above and beyond $500 a month.

Clinton campaign officials maintain that the goal of the plan is not to provide a free education for students.  Instead, the plan hopes to make education affordable enough so that students can work their way through college without needing to burden themselves with large amounts of student loans.

Officials claim that colleges would be held accountable for lowering costs and fees passed down to students in order to allow students to graduate debt-free.