South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, one of the numerous competitors vying for the Democrat Party’s 2020 presidential nomination, published several policy positions centered around the theme of freedom, including one that asserts, “Freedom means access to affordable higher education.”
According to Buttigieg’s website, this would entail free tuition for some students:
For lower-income families, we must make public college truly debt-free. We can do this through a state-federal partnership that makes public tuition affordable for all and completely free at lower incomes — combined with a large increase in Pell Grants that provides for basic living expenses and keeps up with inflation. Middle-income families at public colleges will pay zero tuition. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) are vital for this country and our communities and deserve to receive more dedicated support.
Obama-era Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro released his “People First Education” position statement this week, which would dispense with tuition at public institutions:
Eliminate tuition at public colleges, universities, community colleges, and technical and vocational schools, breaking the work-school tug of war. Share the financing of tuition costs with state governments and provide incentives to reduce the cost of college programs including fees, discourage underinvestment into public education by states. Require accountability and standards that include fair pay for all employees and staff, including adjuncts and non-faculty staff, and respect for their right to join a union.
Castro’s plan also included a call for government to fund daylong universal preschool for children ages three and four. It would be “Funded through a grant program to state and local governments,” according to Castro’s website.
Other contenders in the Democrat primary field have advocated for some form of government-funded college. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) released a plan last month. Back in 2015, Joe Biden voiced support for “16 years of free public education for all our children,” and during remarks this week the former vice president expressed support for free community college. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sponsored the “College for All Act of 2017,” and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) all co-sponsored that legislation.