Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced Wednesday three new features to her New College Compact plan, which aims to address the increasing student debt burden.
The announcement follows a private meeting last month between Clinton and her primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), in which they discussed the differing aspects of both candidates’ college affordability plans. Sanders touted free undergraduate tuition at all public institutions, which made the candidate popular among students.
Clinton’s plan, originally introduced in August, focuses on making college affordable by reducing the need for students to take out loans while also increasing financial aid from public institutions.
One addition to Clinton’s NCC borrows largely from the Sanders platform with promises to eliminate costs for middle class families by providing free tuition for those with an annual income of up to $125,000 at in-state institutions. According to a press release, this addition will cover 80 percent of all families.
However, the plan requires an initial income threshold value of $85,000, which will then rise annually by $10,000 for four years.
Students for Sanders president Nicholas Kolenda, a rising LSA junior, said while Clinton’s new additions still do not go as far as Sanders’ plan, the new strides are an important merger beween the two campaigns.
“This isn’t completely tuition-free college, technically, as it leaves out the top 10 percent,” he said. “Even though they can afford it, I’d like to see it be completely tuition-free and public. But it is tuition-free for a vast majority, so it’s a big improvement over Clinton’s original plan and a good compromise between the two plans.”
Despite this collaboration, Sanders has yet to officially endorse Clinton, despite stating that he plans to vote for her in November.
College Democrats chair Collin Kelly, a rising LSA junior, said the expansion is an important addition to Clinton’s original efforts to address college affordability.
“Secretary Clinton’s original college affordability plan would have gone a long way to alleviate some of the burden of student debt, and her updated plan improves it by responding to our needs with an even more progressive, accessible and extensive plan,” he said.
The second new aspect of the NCC is a moratorium on student debt, which Clinton plans to enact through an executive action at the start of her presidency. This three-month period, in which federal borrowers would not have to issue payment installments, would give borrowers time to research all of their repayment options through the Department of Education to find the best options to save money.
The final addition furthers the protection of Pell Grants — federal aid for students with financial need — through restoring year-round funding, which would help students pay for options like summer classes or other educational pursuits during summer months.
Kelly said the updated plan reflects the needs of students across the country, which he believes will help drive a Democratic victory in November.
“This shows that Democrats are hard at work to produce real, effective solutions to the challenges faced by students across the nation,” he said. “It’s clear which party listens to and supports the interests of students and young people. And we know that, when students vote, Democrats win.”