Former San Antonio mayor Julián Castro, one of the candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, released a comprehensive education plan Monday that calls for eliminating tuition at public colleges as well as delaying student loan payments until a degree begins to pay off for borrowers.
It's the most detailed vision for higher education offered by any Democratic candidate so far outside of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren. Unlike the Warren higher ed proposal released last month, Castro's plan encompasses all levels of public education, backing universal pre-K as well as new investments in K-12 schools and teacher training.
While Castro's proposal offers a more limited approach on student debt than the Warren plan, it matches her ambitions on college affordability and takes a similar hard line on for-profit colleges.
His proposal would have the federal government partner with states to provide free tuition at public colleges and vocational schools. And it would boost the maximum Pell Grant to $10,000 to cover other costs of attendance.
The plan also calls for capping student loan payments at zero until a borrower's income exceeds 250 percent of the federal poverty line (roughly $31,225 for a single-person household in 2019).
For borrowers in repayment on their student loans, monthly payments would not exceed 10 percent of their adjusted gross income. After 20 years in repayment, including months with zero payments, the proposal calls for forgiving the remaining amount owed on student loans.
Castro also proposed loan forgiveness for borrowers who used federal benefit programs like SNAP for three years out of a five-year period. And the plan would allow student borrowers to discharge their loans through the bankruptcy process.
His plan calls for for-profit colleges to be excluded from federal aid programs and proposes tougher oversight of institutions that have converted to nonprofit status.
Castro's plan also addresses access to higher education for marginalized students. The proposal doesn't specifically mention Pell Grants for incarcerated students but calls for more educational opportunities for juveniles and adults who are incarcerated. And Castro calls for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and Temporary Protected Status holders to be made eligible for federal student aid programs.