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Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, last week released a $500 billion plan to make college more affordable for working- and middle-class families.

The proposal would make public colleges tuition-free for the 80 percent of students who have annual family incomes of $100,000 or less. The next 10 percent of students, from families earning $100,000 to $150,000 per year, would receive public college tuition subsidies on a sliding scale, under the plan.

"To keep tuition costs in check, in exchange for receiving federal dollars states will guarantee to invest in their public higher education systems and constrain tuition increases," the plan said.

Buttigieg also proposed to increase the award amounts for federal Pell Grants, to help cover nontuition costs such as housing and transportation. The plan also would increase funding for historically black colleges and universities by $50 billion. Buttigieg said he would soon release details to address student debt burdens.