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Friday, July 8, 2016

Clinton Embraces Sanders' Plan for Free Tuition

Hillary Clinton. (photo: Getty)
Hillary Clinton. (photo: Getty)

By Harper Neidig, The Hill
 
illary Clinton on Wednesday proposed a plan to eliminate college tuition for most families, a topic pushed by Democratic presidential primary rival Bernie Sanders.

Under the plan, families making $125,000 or less will pay no tuition at public, in-state universities and colleges.

“The plan will be phased in over five years, but families earning $85,000 or less will immediately be able to attend an in-state college or university without paying any tuition,” reads an announcement on Clinton’s website.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also unveiled a plan to use executive actions to offer a three-month moratorium on payments for those with federal student loans.

"American families are drowning in debt caused by ever-rising college costs, and it is imperative that the next president put forward a bold plan to make debt-free college available to all," Clinton said in a statement. "My New College Compact will do just that -- by making sure that working families can send a child or loved one to college tuition-free and by giving student debt-holders immediate relief.

“While [presumptive GOP presidential nominee] Donald Trump offers little more than broken promises to get rich quick, I remain committed to ensuring that a college degree is attainable for anyone in this country with the desire and determination to earn one."

The new Clinton plan does not go as far as one proposed by Sanders, who has not yet endorsed her and is continuing to pressure the party to adopt some of his proposals.

The Vermont senator has made universal, tuition-free public college and university a major platform of his campaign. Clinton’s plan, according to the announcement, would relieve about 80 percent of students from the burden of tuition.

Shortly after the announcement, Sanders lauded Clinton for the proposal, saying the compromise "will have a profound impact on the future of our country.”

“I want to take this opportunity to applaud Secretary Clinton for the very bold initiative she has just brought forth today for the financing of higher education. This proposal combines some of the strongest ideas she fought for during the campaign with some of the principles that I fought for. The final product is a result of the work of both campaigns," he said in a statement.

“Let me be very clear. This proposal, when implemented, will revolutionize the funding of higher education in America, improve the economic future of our country and make life immediately better for tens of millions of people stuck with high levels of student debt."

Sanders refused to offer a timeline for endorsing Clinton during a meeting with House Democrats on Wednesday.

Even so, lawmakers viewed the coordination between the two campaigns Wednesday as a positive step toward party unity ahead of the convention later this month.

“Today is evidence that Sen. Sanders and Secretary Clinton are working together,” said Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the chairman of the House Democrats' campaign arm.

"He’s very committed to making sure that our message of doing something for the middle class is going to resonate," said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.).

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