When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a plan for free college tuition in his state, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced her support. Clinton took partial credit for the plan, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders -- who was present at the Jan. 3 announcement.
Clinton originally announced her plan, then called the “New College Compact,” in August 2015 on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, reports The Washington Post.
“College is supposed to help people achieve their dreams, but more and more paying for college actually pushes those dreams further and further out of reach,” Clinton told the crowd. "That is a betrayal of everything college is supposed to represent.”
According to The Washington Post, a study by the New York Federal Reserve and the credit scoring agency Experian found that student debt has tripled in the United States between 2005 and 2014 -- from $376 billion to $1.2 trillion.
Meanwhile, Sanders, Clinton’s then-opponent in the Democratic primaries, was pitching his own version of student debt reform.
"When we need the best-educated workforce in the world, yes, we are going to make public colleges and universities tuition-free," Sanders said following his primary win in New Hampshire, reports NPR.
By the Democratic National Convention in July, the two camps had reconciled their position.
" ... We have come together on a proposal that will revolutionize higher education in America,” Sanders told the floor of the DNC. “It will guarantee that the children of any family [in] this country with an annual income of $125,000 a year or less — 83 percent of our population — will be able to go to a public college or university tuition-free. That proposal also substantially reduces student debt."
“College is a mandatory step if you really want to be a success,” Cuomo said while announcing his Excelsior Scholarship program on Jan. 3, in which students from families earning $125,000 a year or less would be granted free tuition at state schools, reports the New York Daily News. “And the way this society said we are going to pay for high school because you need high school, this society should say we’re going to pay for college because you need college to be successful.”