The price for a four-year college education is becoming too expensive, with the cost of loans inhibiting Americans from beginning their college careers and graduating, says Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
“Our economy cannot flourish if we don’t have enough college-educated workers, but our economy will stagnate if students take on bigger and bigger debt loads to pay for college. Degrees push us forward, but debt holds us back,” Warren said during a June 10 speech at the Shanker Institute in Washington D.C.
While other members of the Democratic Party, specifically presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, have repeatedly called for tuition-free college, Warren went a step further by devising a plan that would allow colleges to charge tuition while providing students with a “debt-free” experience during their time as a student and after they graduate. Thus, Warren's plan addresses college expenses that go beyond just tuition.
Warren’s speech focused on the importance of removing five and six-figure loan burdens from graduating students, but did provide some specifics as to how her program would operate.
“The federal government can help states meet their responsibilities by directly partnering with them to support their colleges in the same way that the federal government partnered with states to build and maintain interstate highways," Warren said. "Every state university system in the country (should offer) at least one path to a debt-free college degree for all students."
Warren also called on universities to simplify the financial aid application process, which many Americans find confusing to navigate. In fact, 30 percent of Massachusetts residents do not apply for financial aid, although they may qualify for benefits, according to MIC.com.
She also advocated for an update to the popular Pell Grant system, which is one of the top funders for college education. Vox.com noted that “the biggest possible Pell Grant, which goes mostly to low-income students, used to cover about half of the price of a four-year college education. Now it covers only slightly more than a quarter.”
Warren’s final point suggested that the federal government and loan companies should forgive student loans for students who cannot afford to pay back the cost after interest and late fees. She suggested loan forgiveness plans for students who "commit themselves to public service, who suffer economic calamity, and who are de-frauded by for-profit college," according to MIC.com.
You can read Warren’s entire speech here.