Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was reportedly preparing to debut her student debt plan next week and officially join the discussion around improving college affordability. An anonymous source close to Clinton told Politico that her proposal for student loan reform, which is expected to be one of the biggest issues in the run-up to the 2016 election, would be announced Monday.
“This will be the big-ticket item," the source said, adding that it would essentially set up a “mandate to act on college affordability.” Clinton's proposal centers around a partnership between federal and state governments. States would get incentives to dedicate more funding to public colleges and universities, a move that the federal government would support with investments of its own, Politico reported.
The ultimate goal would be to decrease tuition -- and therefore lessen the financial stress on the nation's 21 million college students. Clinton was also due to unveil a proposal specifically for students enrolled in the nation's 106 historically black colleges and universities.
The Democratic front-runner has previously come out in support of college affordability. She mentioned lifting "the crushing burden of student debt" in her June kickoff speech, and at a campaign stop in May she added, "We have to deal with the indebtedness -- to try to move toward making college as debt-free as possible."
The cost of college has been rising for years, and it could soon reach a breaking point. Last year it cost about $18,943 for a student to attend a public college in his or her home state. Attending a public, in-state school is three times more expensive than it was 30 years ago. Students have responded by taking out loans: Members of the class of 2015 left school owing an average of $35,051, International Business Times previously reported.
Clinton's opponents have taken bold stances on the issue as their campaigns ramped up. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who is seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, announced in May a plan to make tuition free at four-year schools, and he introduced the legislation to support it. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley revealed his proposal in July, calling for students to be allowed to refinance their loans, freezing tuition and increasing states' investments in higher education.