Where Hillary Clinton stands on education

By the end of 2016, student loan debt will have skyrocketed to unprecedented levels. In fact, estimates report that approximately 43 million students in the United States will owe nearly $1.3 trillion. That means the average class of 2016 graduate has nearly $38,000 in debt--a six percent increase from last year.

Hillary Clinton, a longtime education advocate Hillary Clinton emphasizes education policy in her presidential agenda--pushing for early as well as higher education reform.

“The public school system has been, I believe, second to the Constitution, the most important institution in making America the great country that we have been over the last 200 plus years,” Clinton said in 2015.

Her original plan cost $350 billion over a decade, but she expanded the college affordability portion of the plan significantly in July. There has not been an updated cost estimate. The plan would be paid for by increasing taxes on the wealthy. 

Here are the key components to Clinton’s educational policy:

Early education:

  • Make preschool and quality childcare “available to every child in America” in the next decade
  • End the school-to-prison-pipeline by reforming harsh discipline standards in schools. “A classroom should be a safe place for our children, we shouldn’t even have to say that,” she said in a February speech. “This isn’t just an education issue, this is a civil rights issue and we can’t ignore it any longer.”

College affordability:

  • Enact policy that would allow families who make less than $125,000 attend public colleges for free--a leftward shift in Clinton’s education platform thanks to pressure from Sen. Bernie Sanders and his devout supporters who called for “free-tuition-for-all.” The plan has a five-year phase-in, but families making $85,000 or less would immediately be exempt from tuition at in-state public schools. 
  • Pell Grants for low-income students would be expanded
  • Her “New Compact Plan” would incentivize states to keep tuition rates down and provide grant money to those who demonstrate a commitment to college affordability

Student debt:

  • Expand student loan repayment options, such as refinancing and deferment, so that “debt won’t hold [them] back”
  •  Would give student borrowers a three-month moratorium on student loan payments, during which time the government could help graduates either refinance, consolidate or enter into an income-based repayment program

  • Implement a “expiration date” for student loans to prevent the government from “making money off of lending money to young people to get their education”

John Wasik contributed to this article

With the upcoming election, CBS News is bringing you a new feature series on the two major party nominees and their positions on important policy issues. Check out our list of stories and videos below:

  • Julia Boccagno

    Julia Boccagno is a news associate for CBS News.