Little by little, the mass of humanity that’s running for President of the United States is coming to realize something very important: Not only does the $1.2 trillion worth of higher education-related debt pose significant macroeconomic peril to the country, but solving this problem (or, at least, coming close) has the potential to rally widespread, enthusiastic support across the generational divide.
On Monday, Hillary Clinton became the latest presidential hopeful to make that play.
In her plan, the federal government would award block grants to states, which would in turn distribute those funds to public four- and two-year universities and colleges for no-loan and no-tuition plans, respectively.
In exchange for the cash, the recipient states would agree to “halt disinvestment” in public higher education (average state spending has declined by 23% since before the economic collapse, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).
The Clinton plan also proposes to permit the use of Pell Grant monies for living expenses, apportion all grants to take into effect the number of low- and middle-income students, and require family financial-need calculations to take into account the contribution value of at least 10 hours per week of the student’s part-time employment.
As important, her plan proposes to reduce the interest rates on federally-backed education loans to the level at which the government would cover its costs, but no more than that. Existing borrowers would also be permitted to refinance their loans at the new (presumably) lower rate.
Candidate Clinton also joins others in calling for schools to be held financially accountable for graduating too few students of the students they decide to enroll, and for failing to properly equip those who do manage to complete their studies with the tools they need to secure employment that pays enough to cover the bills.