Clinton Takes a Page From Sanders's College Plan

The Democratic candidate would provide many students with free tuition, although she stopped short of making that universal.

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

NEWS BRIEF Bernie Sanders’s campaign may have lost steam after Hillary Clinton became the Democratic party’s presumptive nominee, but he’s still making his presence felt.

On Wednesday, Clinton’s campaign announced a set of new proposals on higher education, chief among them eliminating college tuition for families with annual incomes under $125,000. It would apply to in-state public colleges and universities. On the campaign trail, Clinton repeatedly pushed for debt-free college, but the latest move is a shift toward Sanders’s position—that the federal government assume the responsibility for providing a free college education. It stops short, though, of extending that to all students, as Sanders had proposed to do.

“American families are drowning in debt caused by ever-rising college costs,” Clinton said in a statement, “and it is imperative that the next president put forward a bold plan to make debt-free college available to all. My New College Compact will do just that—by making sure that working families can send a child or loved one to college tuition-free and by giving student debt-holders immediate relief.”

Clinton’s newly announced proposals also include a three-month moratorium on federal student loan payments, which would be carried out through executive action if she takes office, as well as “defending Pell Grants.”

As Clinton pivots to the general election, she’s sought to win over Sanders’s ardent supporters in an attempt to unite the party. Although Sanders hasn’t endorsed Clinton, the two met behind closed doors last month. The Vermont senator has made clear his intentions to influence the party, most recently fighting to move the Democratic Party platform to the left. Sanders also told House Democrats in a meeting Wednesday that “the goal isn’t to win elections, the goal is to transform America.”

Sanders and Clinton appear to be reaching a consensus on some issues ahead of the Democratic National Convention this month. After Clinton’s campaign announced new measures to her college education plan, Sanders campaign said he “welcomed the proposal in a statement.” Sanders continued:

I want to take this opportunity to applaud Secretary Clinton for the very bold initiative she has just brought forth today for the financing of higher education. This proposal combines some of the strongest ideas she fought for during the campaign with some of the principles that I fought for. The final product is a result of the work of both campaigns.

Let me be very clear. This proposal, when implemented, will revolutionize the funding of higher education in America, improve the economic future of our country and make life immediately better for tens of millions of people stuck with high levels of student debt.

According to a New York Times report, Clinton and Sanders discussed college affordability during their meeting last month.