Hillary Clinton Announces Plan to Increase Affordability, Improve Access to College

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton unveiled a $350 billion plan on Monday to make college more affordable in order to ease the financial burden placed on students and their families.

Clinton announced her plan, called the New College Compact, at a town-hall-style event in Exeter, N.H., a state plagued by a high level of student debt. The plan is based on an incentive program that would provide money to states that guarantee “no-loan” tuition at four-year public universities and community colleges.

“College is supposed to help people achieve their dreams, but more and more paying for college actually pushes those dreams further and further out of reach,” Clinton said in front of a crowd of nearly 600 at a public high school. “That is a betrayal of everything college is supposed to represent.”

Under her plan, states that enroll a high number of students from low- and middle-income households would receive more money, as would those that work with schools to reduce living expenses. Her proposal would also make low-interest grants and loans more available while ensuring that the federal government “will never again profit off student loans for college students.”

In addition to reinstating Ronald Reagan-era cuts on itemized deductions for high-income families, the plan would allocate more than half of the $350 billion over 10 years to increasing states’ investment in higher education, while the rest would cover the cost of lowering student loan interest rates and other initiatives.

The former secretary of state’s announcement is the latest in a string of Democratic presidential contenders’ attempts to tackle the daunting issue of college affordability. However, Clinton’s challengers, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, have gone beyond promising affordability to advocating for “debt-free” college.

Some have criticized Clinton’s plan — which narrowly focuses on improving the quality of higher education and retention — saying it focuses on only one piece of the puzzle.