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Where They Stand: 2020 Presidential Candidates On Student Debt, College Costs


BOSTON (CBS) - About 45 million Americans owe a staggering $1.6 trillion in student debt. More and more young people are graduating college looking ahead to decades of loan repayment. Student debt, and making college more affordable has become a central issue in the 2020 presidential campaign.

Here is a brief look at where each of the current presidential candidates stand:

Joseph Biden, Jr. (D)
Former Vice President

Michael Bloomberg (D)
Former Mayor of New York City

Pete Buttigieg (D)
Mayor of South Bend, Indiana

  • Wants to make college free for lower income families
  • Proposal supports state-federal partnership that make public tuition affordable for all and free for lower income families
  • Will combine this with large increases in Pell Grants that provides for basic living expenses and keeps up with inflation

Tulsi Gabbard (D)
Congresswoman from Hawaii

  • Co-sponsored House versions of Sander's College for All Act
  • Wants to cut student loan interest rates for new borrowers in half and enable existing borrowers to refinance their loans

Amy Klobuchar (D)
Minnesota Senator

  • Supported College Cost Reduction Act that created a public service loan forgiveness and income based repayments
  • Supports the American Opportunity Tax Credit that allows student loan borrowers to deduct a decent amount of student loan interest on tax return
  • In support of expanding the Pell Grant
  • Plan includes letting current student loan borrowers gain eligibility to refinance their existing loans at lower rates of around 3%
  • Wants free tuition for community colleges

Bernie Sanders (D)
Vermont Senator

  • Supports free and debt-free college
  • Debt free proposal includes eliminating tuition at public colleges and universities for people of specific household incomes
  • Wants to increase Pell Grants for low income
  • Plans to increase federal work study opportunities for students and reduce cap interest rates
  • Supports borrowers being able to refinance student loans at lower rates

Tom Steyer (D)

  • Wants the right to a quality education guaranteed under the Constitution
  • Two years of free college
  • Refinance student loans at lower rates
  • Forgive student loan debt for teachers and other public servants

Donald Trump (R)
President of the United States

  • Force colleges to limit tuition increases by limiting student loan borrowing
  • Simplify the student loan repayment process
  • Increased access to Pell grants over Summer and Winter breaks

Elizabeth Warren (D)
Massachusetts Senator

  • Co-sponsor of the 2018 Debt Free College Act
  • Supports free tuition for all at public colleges
  • Plans to speed up the debt forgiveness process by using executive authority
  • Wants to cancel up to $50,000 in debt for anyone with a household income under $100,000
  • People who earn more would be able to get a smaller amount of their debt cancelled

Bill Weld (R)
Former MA Governor

  • Allow for renegotiating of student debt
  • Increase focus on online education
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