Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders clashed briefly over their college affordability plans during the Democratic Party’s first debate Wednesday night.
Echoing some of the remarks they’ve been making on the campaign trail recently, the two leading candidates emphasized differences in their plans to provide new federal funding to public higher education.
“We don’t need a complicated system, which the secretary is talking about -- the income goes down, the income goes down, if you’re poor you have to work, and so forth and so on.” Sanders said of Clinton’s plan.
Clinton responded, “My plan would enable anyone to go to a public college or university tuition free. You would not have to borrow money for tuition.”
She also emphasized that her debt-free tuition plan would require that students work for 10 hours a week; Sanders's proposal would expand the federal work-study program but it does not impose such a requirement.
"I worked when I went through college," Clinton added, "I worked when I went through law school. I think it’s important for everybody to have some part of getting this accomplished. That’s why I call it a compact."
Nearly every candidate made fleeting references to higher education issues, though college affordability and student debt was not a main focal point of the evening.
Another candidate, former Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland, touted his state’s tuition freeze and in-state tuition for immigrants living in the country illegally.
Asked whether she also supports in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, Clinton said that her college affordability plan “would support any state that takes that position.”
She added that she "would work with those states and encourage more states to do the same thing."