Is Clinton Exempt From AFT Criteria on Debt-Free Plans?

July 17, 2015

Demos, the Progressive Change Campaign and the American Federation of Teachers on Thursday released a checklist for evaluating debt-free college proposals, outlining what lawmakers and candidates should include when presenting policy plans on the topic. The requirements include making sure all undergraduates have access to debt-free colleges and having the plan apply to all college costs and not just tuition.

Several presidential candidates have made debt-free college one of their major policy points. But Hillary Clinton, who was recently endorsed by AFT, has not released any plans on debt-free college, although she is said to possibly present a plan on college affordability later this month. Of late, she has been speaking of "college affordability," not "debt-free college."

Randi Weingarten, the president of AFT, said the AFT questionnaire presented to all candidates as part of the endorsement process did not specifically address debt-free college but instead asked a broader question about college affordability. She said Clinton had supported President Obama's free community college plan and discussed states cutting support for higher education. Weingarten affirmed AFT’s stance on debt-free college, saying that they “are looking at all aspects of this, not just college affordability -- making sure the colleges students go to have the support and materials and funding that they need.”

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