Biden and Sanders’ higher education plans differ in scope, specificity

Elizabeth Warren’s departure from the Democratic presidential nomination race has left two candidates with different approaches to dealing with college affordability and other higher education policy issues. In addition to having different prices, the plans published by Joe biden and Bernie sanders differ in the amount of detail they provide.

Price tag:

Biden: 750 billion dollars

Sanders: $ 2.2 trillion

Remission of debts:

Sanders: Would cancel the entire $ 1.6 trillion outstanding student debt balance in the United States

Biden: Would take a more targeted approach, enrolling all existing and new borrowers in income-based repayment plans, except those who choose to opt out. Borrowers who earn $ 25,000 or less per year are expected to pay no payments on their federal undergraduate student loans and earn no interest on those loans. Others would pay 5% of their annual discretionary income over $ 25,000 for loans. The plan would write off 100 percent of any remaining debt for those who have made payments for 20 years. It would also change the tax code so that debt forgiveness through income-based repayment is not taxed.

Biden’s plan would also revamp the civil service loan forgiveness program, providing $ 10,000 in undergraduate or graduate debt relief for each year of national or community service worked, up to five years. People who work in schools, government and other nonprofit settings would automatically be enrolled in the forgiveness program. He would seek to resolve the problem of PSLF candidates being rejected for not enrolling in the correct repayment plan. Auxiliary teachers would be entitled to a pardon, depending on the time spent teaching.

Free college:

Sanders: Spend $ 48 billion a year to eliminate tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities, tribal colleges, community colleges, trade schools and apprenticeship programs. His plan would create a federal-state partnership in which the federal government would pay two-thirds of the cost of free tuition, with the state responsible for the other third.

Participating states and tribes must meet several conditions to be eligible, including a reduction in their reliance on low-wage contingent faculty members. Funds generated by the program could not be used for administrator salaries, merit-based financial aid, or the construction of non-university buildings such as stadiums and student centers.

Biden: This would make up to two years of community college free for all students, including those attending part-time, children of undocumented immigrants, and those who have not recently graduated from high school. The program would also be created as part of a federal-state partnership, in which the federal government would provide 75 percent of the cost, with the states taking the remainder. The federal government would cover 95 percent of the cost of eliminating tuition fees at tribal community colleges that serve low-income students. Those who would benefit from two years of college tuition free of charge could then get another two years free of charge at historically black colleges and universities and institutions serving minorities.

Other student aid:

Sanders: Since tuition fees would no longer exist at public institutions, low-income students would be free to use federal Pell Grants for books, transportation, housing, and other costs. The plan would require states and tribes participating in the federal-state partnership for a free college to cover any costs that remain after the grants for low-income students. It would also triple spending on the federal work-study program, with a focus on institutions that serve large numbers of low-income students.

Biden: For community college students, the federal-state partnership for a free college would be what’s known as the first dollar, meaning that student aid grants could cover other college attendance costs in addition to the costs. tuition fees.

To help students at four-year institutions pay for fees other than tuition, the plan would create a new grant program to provide support services to students, especially U.S. Army veterans, to parents. singles, low income students, students of color, and college students. with disabilities. The grant could be used for public benefits, textbook and transportation costs, and childcare and mental health services. Institutions could also use the money to create emergency grant programs for students facing an unexpected financial challenge that threatens their ability to stay enrolled in the university.

The plan would double the maximum amount of Pell scholarships, thereby increasing the number of middle-class students eligible for the program. This would allow Dreamers and former incarcerated to receive the grants. Biden would prioritize using federal work-study dollars for jobs that provide skills useful for students’ intended careers or that contribute to their communities by mentoring students in classrooms and community centers across the city. kindergarten to grade 12.

For-profit institutions:

Sanders: does not mention for-profit institutions or the cancellation of student debt that has been deceived by for-profit institutions in its higher education project. Sanders did not mention the reinstatement of the Obama administration’s paid employment rule, which was repealed by Education Secretary Betsy Devos. But he was part of a group of six Democratic senators who wrote the Obama administration calling for the creation of the rule, which threatened for-profit institutions with losing federal student loan money if insufficient numbers of their graduates were unable to repay their student debt. He also lobbied DeVos during his 2017 confirmation hearings to preserve the borrower defense rule, which allowed people cheated by for-profit institutions to be forgiven for their student debt. The rule was also repealed by DeVos.

Biden: Would require for-profit institutions to prove their worth to the US Department of Education before becoming eligible for federal aid, a possible reference to reinstating the paid employment rule. Would also eliminate the escape route 90/10 which, according to veterans groups, prompts for-profit companies to aggressively market the military. Would allow the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to take action against private lenders who mislead students about their options and fail to provide an affordable payment plan during times of financial hardship. Would restore the Obama administration’s borrower defense rule, also allow the release of private student loans through bankruptcy.

Improve the performance of the College:

Sanders: His plan would create a federal-state partnership that would be different from one that would eliminate tuition fees. This program would provide dollar-for-dollar federal matching to states and tribes to increase academic opportunities for students, hire new faculty members, and provide professional development opportunities for faculty.

Biden: His plan would be to create a grants program to help community colleges implement evidence-based practices to increase student retention and completion of accreditation programs. It would invest $ 8 billion to help community colleges improve the health and safety of their facilities and acquire new technologies. It would provide grants to states working to speed up students’ achievement of bachelor’s degrees and other degrees, for example by offering dual enrollment programs for community colleges and four-year degree tracks. .

HBCU and other institutions serving minorities:

Sanders: The plan would spend $ 1.3 billion a year to eliminate or dramatically reduce tuition and fees for low-income students at around 200 HBCUs and institutions serving minorities. To be eligible, at least 35 percent of the institution’s students would have to be low-income.

Biden: The plan would invest $ 18 billion in grants to provide two years of free tuition to low-income and middle-class students at HBCUs and other institutions serving minorities. In return, colleges must invest in lowering prices, improving retention and graduation rates, and narrowing the equity gaps for students of color.

It would spend an additional $ 10 billion to create at least 200 new centers of excellence that would serve as research incubators and connect under-represented students in professional fields such as climate change, globalization, inequalities, disparities in health and cancer. Increase funding for agricultural research at land granting universities, including HBCUs and tribal colleges or universities, and devote additional federal funds or grants and contracts to HBCUs and institutions serving minorities. The plan would require all federal research grants to universities with an endowment of more than $ 1 billion to contract with an HBCU, tribal college or institution serving minorities. It would also spend $ 20 billion to build research facilities and laboratories at HBCUs, tribal colleges and institutions serving minorities. And the plan would invest $ 10 billion in programs at HBCUs, tribal colleges and minority-serving institutions that increase enrollment, retention, completion and employment rates.


Biden: He would pay for the $ 750 billion plan by closing the “strong base” loophole, which reduces capital gains tax on property passed to an heir. Biden would also cap itemized deductions for high-income taxpayers at 28%.

Sanders: He would pay for the $ 2.2 trillion plan by taxing Wall Street transactions.

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