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Pete's plan to provide for free college for those who need it


Pete’s Plan to Make College Affordable

Pete will provide free college for those who need it and enable 10 million more students to graduate with high-quality college degrees and credentials over the next decade.

Get the facts

Pete’s plan will make public tuition free or subsidized for 90% of American families and will require states to improve college affordability for all students. Here are the facts: 

  • Pete will make public tuition free for 80% of American families, including all families earning up to $100,000 and many middle-income families with multiple children. He will provide substantial tuition subsidies for students from families earning up to $150,000. 
  • Under Pete’s plan, 90% of public college students will have free or subsidized tuition.
  • Pete will add $120 billion to the Pell Grant program, including increasing the size of the maximum Pell Grant by $1,000 to help millions of students pay for room, board, and basic living expenses.
  • Pete will invest $50 billion in HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority-Serving institutions over the next decade.
  • Pete will invest $1 billion more each year to double the number of apprentices in sectors like IT, health care, advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and education.
  • Pete will expand and improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, allowing loan forgiveness to begin after your first year in public service and providing full debt cancellation after 10 years.

Q: What is Pete’s position on free college for all?

Pete’s plan will provide free college to those who need it - but he doesn’t believe that American taxpayers should be paying for the tuition of millionaires and billionaires. Pete will provide free or subsidized public tuition to 90% of American families.

According to experts, almost 40% of the benefit of free tuition will go to wealthier students, and in states where free tuition programs are already in place, the benefit has flowed disproportionately to students from richer families. In Delaware, for instance, fewer than 20% of free college students were Pell Grant eligible. In Missouri, a third of free college recipients were from families with six-figure incomes -- nearly twice the state's median income.

Q. What will Pete’s plan cost?

Pete’s plan to provide free or reduced tuition would cost, we estimate, around $325 billion, whereas plans that provide free college to everyone would cost approximately $460 billion. Pete believes that instead of spending that money to provide free tuition to those in the top 10%, who are already well off, we should be investing in other opportunities, including programs to ensure the success of Americans who decide to pursue workforce development, and critical supports like increasing investment in affordable housing, guaranteeing universal child care and paid family leave, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, and passing a $15 minimum wage and overtime protections.

College Affordability Comparison Graphic