Current President Joe Biden released his higher education plan, aimed at providing options to ease student loan debt and accessibility to a two or four-year institution with the goal of having more people enter the middle class, through getting more opportunities for education and career.
Unlike his more progressive Democratic rivals Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Biden will only make tuition debt-free for those who attend two years of community college or high-quality training programs. The Biden campaign argues that two free years of community college would cut four-year education rates in half since students could transfer their credits to complete their college education.
Numerous investments to improve the quality of education in community colleges, as well as HBCUs and minority institutions, would cost an approximate $750 billion, which will be paid for by increasing taxes on the super-wealthy and eliminating the “stepped-up basis” loophole, according to the campaign.
Warren and Sanders are proposing four years of free community and public college tuition and forgiving most if not all existing student debt, respectively.
“This is the single most powerful executive action President Biden could take to advance racial equity and give everyone in America a chance to build a future,” Warren said.
Biden’s plan would forgive outstanding student debt for those who have responsibly paid it back for 20 years. Those working jobs in “national or community service” like teaching or non-profits, would receive $10,000 student debt relief annually for up to five years for each year that they stay in that vocational job.
People making more than $25,000 would directly pay 5 percent of their discretionary income toward their loan, which is half of the current 10 percent cap. Those who make $25,000 or less would not be expected to pay back the government and would not accrue interest.
DREAMers, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, would also be eligible to receive a free two-year education. They would also receive financial aid, based on requirements already established under existing financial aid eligibility.
Dr. Jill Biden, who has worked at community colleges for over 30 years and is currently teaching at Northern Virginia Community College, told reporters on a briefing call Monday evening that Biden’s plan will give students like hers the opportunity to succeed because it was crafted by educators who witness the problems with the higher education system daily.
“What means the most to me is that it comes from listening to educators and students, not telling them what we think they need. It goes beyond tuition and supports a holistic approach to retention and completion. That’s what really makes a difference in my student’s lives,” she said.
The focus on higher education compliments Biden’s education plan, which aims to triple federal government spending to help hire more teachers, pay those teachers more, enroll all 3 and 4-year-olds into pre-Kindergarten and increase coursework rigor across the country.
“Before the Covid-19 public health crisis began, student debt was already a drag on the national economy, weighing heaviest on Black and Latinx communities, as well as women,” the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Psychological Association, and the Consumer Federation of America wrote.
“Administrative debt cancellation will deliver real progress on your racial equity, economic recovery, and Covid-19 relief campaign priorities.”
Feature Image: THE ORACLE