- Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton unveiled a new element of her education platform yesterday, calling for free tuition at all public colleges and universities.
- Some higher education leaders caution the plan can only work if states are willing to cooperate with the federal government in sharing cost subsidies.
- Other legislators, like Congressman James Clyburn, say that free tuition at all campuses would destroy historically black colleges and universities.
Louisiana State University System President F. King Alexander told The New York Times that key to Clinton's plan is the cooperation between states and the federal government to properly invest in higher education. “You can only play in the free college game if your state maintains its commitment,” he said. There are few clear pathways to seeing where federal lawmakers would endorse a higher education spending plan which would cost more money than it has previously been willing to spend, and one that would tilt the higher ed industry against private, tuition-driven schools.
But in the midst of a presidential election and leading up to midterm races in 2018, colleges and universities can make the case for more merit and industrially-driven support for students. Clinton has already advanced a proposal to cut loan repayment for students who create businesses and a broader three-month moratorium on loan payments, and when compared to existing forgiveness programs for graduates who work in certain public and social service sectors, a case can be made to entice students entering these fields on the front end.