What does Hillary mean by “debt-free college?”
Hillary’s plan involves several different federal expenditures in order to keep college students from going into debt.
First, the federal government would give grants to states to subsidize tuition costs for students who couldn’t pay them. It would require the states to chip in more money to fund higher-education in order to receive the grants and schools would be required to take mandatory cost-cutting measures.
In order to be eligible for the money, students would be required to work 10 hours per week and their family would have to pay as much as they can afford.
Students could also have room and board costs covered by performing community service.
As the federal government now runs the student loan process, it would also offer to refinance existing loans and if the balance isn’t paid off in 20 years, the remainder would be forgiven.
Hillary’s plan also co-opts the Obama proposal for free community college for two years.
Costs for the program have been estimated at between $400 billion and half a trillion dollars over 10 years and Hillary expects the full bill to be paid for by tax hikes on top earners.
Why wouldn’t everyone love Hillary’s “debt-free college” plan?
One concern for most should be the strings the federal money will come with. The federal government could stick its nose into school curriculum, admission requirements, quotas for student population mix, mandating things like “preferred pronouns” or non-gender-specific shower, locker, housing, bathroom facilities and who knows what else.
As the program requires state help, private trade schools are likely to get left out which will leave much needed professions like welder, electrician or jet mechanic to pay their own way.
Another concern is a catch-22. Will taxpayer money be used to fund tuition for students pursuing degrees that aren’t ‘useful’? If the answer is “no” then who gets to decide which degrees deserve taxpayer money and which ones do not?
On one side, good governance would require that money wasn’t spent on degrees that have high unemployment and poor pay. The flip-side is that the federal government would be picking winners and losers by funding some degrees/professions and not others.