Michael Bloomberg releases higher education policy

Jocelyn Sandusky, Features Editor

As the presidential primary gets into full swing, Michael Bloomberg has released his higher education policy proposal to showcase his commitment to affordable, attainable and quality post-secondary education.

Fewer than half of Americans have a college degree, according to Bloomberg’s plan, which will provide students with “credentials to equip them for middle-income jobs; give talented low-income students opportunities they deserve; and reform the student-loan system so no one pays more than they can afford.”

The dream of college is great, but according to a high-ranking official with Bloomberg’s campaign, the reality of funding that dream is debilitating for parents and students alike. To combat the anxiety for having to pay for college tuition in the present and future, Bloomberg’s plan will “make two-year public college tuition-free for all and debt-free for the lowest-income students.” It will also “make four-year public college tuition debt-free for the lowest-income students and affordable for all students.” Only students whose family income is under 30k a year would qualify for a completely debt-free college.

Many states offer tuition-free community college but requirements to meet eligibility vary.

Making community college tuition-free would give everyone access to a starting plan, according to a high-ranking campaign member. It would act as an engine toward a bachelor’s degree.

They said that two-thirds of jobs need candidates with a college education or credentials. By investing in education, Bloomberg’s policy states that we also invest in the economy.

Bloomberg’s plan is endorsed by Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, who said she believes in the plan wholeheartedly. She believes his plan will replicate, to some degree, the Rhode Island Promise initiative, which she introduced in 2017. The initiative made community colleges tuition-free for Rhode Island high school graduates for two years. She said that the initiative was one of the lowest cost, highest impact investments Rhode Island had ever made.

“Everyone needs a degree or credential past high school,” she said.

Bloomberg’s plan will also double the maximum Pell grant to $12,690 to help cover the cost of college. The money could go toward expenses such as books, meals, transportation and housing. He also proposes to reform the federal student loan system.

His plan would “enroll new and existing undergraduate student-loan borrowers automatically in income-driven repayment programs, with repayment capped at 5% of discretionary income, down from 10%.”

Eliminating all student debt, as Bernie Sanders has proposed, is problematic and unaffordable, especially when 50% percent of borrowers are on track to secure lucrative positions, according to a member of his campaign. The plan, however, does not apply to graduate student loans.

They added that the plan would cost 700 billion over 10 years and would be fully paid for by taxing the wealthy and corporations.