Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has laid out yet another thorough policy idea, proposing some $1.25 trillion in order to reform higher education through the cancellation of most student loan debt, as well as getting rid of tuition at every public college.
In a post written on Medium, the Warren team explains that the plan intends to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt for every person with household income under $100,00.
The post reads: It provides substantial debt cancellation for every person with household income between $100,000 and $250,000. The $50,000 cancellation amount phases out by $1 for every $3 in income above $100,000, so, for example, a person with household income of $130,000 gets $40,000 in cancellation, while a person with household income of $160,000 gets $30,000 in cancellation.
No debt cancellation would be offered to the top 5% (i.e., people who have a household income over $250,000 will be offered no relief).
For most Americans, this cancellation will be automatic.
The plan also includes private student loan debt, which Warren proposes that the government will work with borrowers and holders to figure out the appropriate amount of debt relief. Any canceled debt will also not be taxed as income.
Once the debt is cleared out, Warren intends to give every American the opportunity to attend public college – whether it be two-year or four-year – completely tuition free. This includes, according to the post, “making higher education of all kinds more inclusive and available to every single American, especially lower-income, Black, and Latinx students, without the need to take on debt to cover costs.”
But Warren is not only interested in targeting tuition fees. The team acknowledged in the post that non-tuition costs such as room and board and books have also increased over the years and also need to be addressed.
The policy also discusses the racial inequalities in higher education.
To that end, Warren intends to create a fund of at least $50 billion for HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions, as well as making federal funding available to states that “demonstrate substantial improvement in enrollment and graduation rates for lower-income students and students of color.”
According to the post the plan will also:
- After an appropriate transition period, ban for-profit colleges from receiving any federal dollars (including military benefits and federal student loans), so they can no longer use taxpayer dollars to enrich themselves while targeting lower-income students, servicemembers, and students of color and leaving them saddled with debt.
- Require public colleges to complete an annual audit that identifies issues creating shortfalls in enrollment and graduation rates for lower-income students and students of color and that proposes steps to improve those rates.
- Prohibit public colleges from considering citizenship status or criminal history in admissions decisions.
Warren brushes off the idea that the plan won’t be affordable, pointing out that her policy is “more than covered” through taxing the wealthiest families.
“We can address the student loan crisis and cancel debt for families that are struggling. We can provide truly universal free college,” the post ended. “We can fix some of the structural problems that are preventing our higher education system from fairly serving lower-income students and students of color. We can make big structural change and create new opportunities for all Americans.”