College affordability has already become a key talking point for presidential candidates looking to reel in elusive young voters and their families.
Martin O'Malley, the Democrat who knew Hillary Clinton would emerge as his party's front-runner early but probably didn't expect Bernie Sanders to develop such a following, is looking to set himself apart from the rest of the field.
While most of the candidates have made general overtures to would-be college-goers about the need to rein in college costs, the former Maryland governor has published a fairly detailed proposal to help people attend public universities debt-free in the next five years,
The plan involves tying student-loan repayments to borrowers' income, slashing tuition, expanding Pell grants, incentivizing colleges to help students graduate on time, and promoting online and other nontraditional learning models.
It's a smart move on O'Malley's part, since much of the conversation around making college affordable centers on how to expand access to populations who have traditionally been left out — students of color among them.
On Tuesday, O'Malley headed to South Carolina to pitch the idea to historically black colleges and universities, known as HBCUs.