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Buttigieg Unveils Plan for Free College, With Limitations

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Pete Buttigieg wants to make college affordable with a new plan to tie the price of education to a family’s income. It wouldn’t make public education free for everyone, as proposed by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, but it would reign in costs for many families.

The college funding scheme is part of his new economic plan, which Buttigieg released as he gears up for a four-day tour of New Hampshire. In it, he writes, "our government can, and should, play a role in setting a level playing field that gives all Americans a chance to succeed … government does need to be a vigorous presence in ensuring that our economy actually works for all."

Under Buttigieg’s plan, public colleges would be free for students whose families earn less than $100,000 per year. That’s similar to a proposal from Joe Biden, who suggested that community college should be free for families under that threshold.

A sliding scale would be applied to families that make between $100,000 to $150,000, and families making more than $150,000 would pay full tuition.

At the Black Economic Alliance Presidential Forum last June, Buttigieg spoke about the need for education to be accessible to more than just the super-rich, saying that billionaires don’t need any further government assistance. "I think if you're a child of a billionaire you can take care of yourself, and you ought to be able to pay some tuition,” he said.

Buttigieg’s plan would send $500 billion in federal funding to state colleges, allowing them to provide more financial aid. Of that, $50 billion would go to historically Black colleges and universities.

The plan also sets aside $700 billion for universal early childhood education. Low-income families and children under five would be prioritized under his plan. He would also create after-school and summer programs to benefit families that are working and middle class.

The education funding is part of a $1 trillion proposed package that covers affordable housing, education, and child care over a decade. The plan would invest $45 billion per year into affordable housing, which is comparable to the amount proposed by Elizabeth Warren. Bernie Sanders proposed spending $250 billion per year on “Housing for All.”

Buttigieg’s proposals would be paid by overhauling taxes on the top 1 percent of Americans, or about 1.4 million people who have an annual gross income of at least a half-million dollars according to the IRS.

“I will use public enforcement, public investments, and public options to make the economy deliver for all Americans, not just those at the top,” Buttigieg writes in the plan.

 

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