Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren unveiled a higher education platform that focuses on student loan cancellation and tuition-free college.
The Massachusetts Democrat dropped the ambitious plan ahead of CNN’s 5-candidate, Young Voter Town Hall in New Hampshire.
“Anyone who’s got outstanding student loan debt can have up to $50,000 worth of student loan debt canceled out so long as their income is under a hundred thousand dollars, then it kind of steps in up to, there’s no help for anybody whose family income’s above $250,000 and that’s it. The debt’s gone,” Warren said.
The proposal would also make all public colleges tuition and fee free, inject $100 billion into Pell Grants over 10 years and create a $50 billion fund, for historically black colleges and other minority-serving institutions.
“There’s a real access problem for low-income students, for students of color, and that is, it’s not just paying the tuition – it’s how they pay for books. It’s how they pay for the expenses of having a baby taken care of if they already have a child at home or being able to cover commuting expenses or maybe it’s a chance to live in a dorm,” Warren said.
Warren’s campaign puts the total cost of the proposal at one-point-two-five trillion dollars. All of it, she said, paid for by her wealth tax.
“I got a proposal. How about a two cent wealth tax?” Warren said.
Warren told CNN this is personal.
“I actually got a scholarship. I dropped out. I got married at 19 and I took a job answering phones and I thought that was going to be my whole life and the fact that there was a commuter college about 45 minutes away that I could pay for on a part-time waitressing job, you know, it opened a door. And that was my chance,” Warren said.
The senator is seeking to drive the debate over student debt in the giant 2020 field.
Senator Bernie Sanders popularized the idea of “free college” in his 2016 White House campaign.
“Make public colleges and universities tuition-free,” Sanders said.
His latest legislation in the Senate, would make public colleges tuition-free, for families making $125,000 or less and, make community colleges tuition-free for everyone.
Warren says her plan does more:
Not every Democratic candidate a fan of the idea of free college.
“Americans who have a college degree earn more on average than Americans who don’t. And as a progressive, I have a hard time getting my head around the idea. I think expecting somebody to pay zero might go further than what’s reasonable,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg said.
Warren told CNN she believes policy is her path to the White House.