Buttigieg campaign announces $500 billion higher ed plan

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg recently announced a $500 billion plan to make public colleges tuition-free for families whose annual incomes are $100,000 or less. Families earning between $100,000 and $150,000 per year would receive tuition subsidies, awarded on a sliding scale. The South Bend mayor’s campaign estimates that the plan would eliminate tuition for 80 percent of American students at public colleges and universities—and would reduce tuition for an additional 10 percent.   

Buttigieg also would increase the maximum Pell Grant award to help pay for non-tuition expenses like books, housing, and transportation. Historically black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions also would benefit, receiving $50 billion in new funding. To reduce the chance of skyrocketing tuition, Buttigieg would require states receiving federal funds to agree “to invest in their public higher education systems and constrain tuition increases.”  

Buttigieg would pay for his higher education proposal and other domestic initiatives largely by reforming the capital gains tax on the top 1 percent of all earners and by eliminating President Donald Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy, the Indianapolis Star reports.

While calling Buttigieg’s plan “more affordable and better targeted” than the free-college-for-all plans put forth by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, The Washington Post editorial board also said it “is not perfect.” Specifically, the proposal “risks encouraging more tuition hikes and other cost inflation, which might not harm many families but could result in skyrocketing federal costs,” the board writes. The Post also calls the $100,000 threshold “arbitrary, particularly when that amount of money goes much further in some places than in others.”

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