As student debt balloons into an issue in the realms of predatory lending, borrowers' mental health, and even the elderly, politicians continue to brainstorm on making college more affordable. Hillary Clinton's solution: a $350 billion proposal whose goals include making community college free, cutting costs to attend four-year public schools, and slashing interest rates on student loans, the AP reports. Under the "New College Compact"—which Politico notes would spread the $350 billion cost over 10 years—colleges that offer free tuition at community colleges and affordable tuition at four-year schools would be eligible for federal funds from a $200 billion federal "incentive" coffer, per the AP. The plan also addresses refinancing for current borrowers, as well as assistance for nontraditional students.
"A presidential election is the time to consider broad changes to public policy, and this is a big, bold, and complex proposal," the president of the American Council on Education tells Politico. Clinton's plan, designed to court younger voters, isn't a total "free ride" proposal, the AP notes: Clinton's aides say that while low-income students, veterans, and other qualifying students would indeed attend certain institutions for free, most families would still need to pitch in a "realistic" amount, while students would also contribute wages. Politico notes, however, the GOP isn't exactly applauding the plan, which would be paid for by capping tax deductions for the wealthy. "Students, taxpayers, and voters should react with great skepticism to any proposals that would amount to a Washington takeover of higher education," a Republican aide tells Politico. (One guy had another idea: Just default on his loans.)