Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination are talking a lot about higher education — or at least certain aspects of it: free tuition, student debt bailouts, more Pell Grants, special funding for historically black colleges and universities. In other words, “free” everything except free speech.
The National Association of Scholars (NAS) just released a new tool to help track what presidential candidates are saying about higher education. We chart the top five Democratic candidates on 10 different issues, ranging from free college to affirmative action. We picked the issues that generated proposals from the most candidates.
Over time, we’ll add more candidates and more topics. (You can view the list, candidate by candidate, or download a version of the chart in Excel, allowing you to sort by topic.)
You can see that all of the top five candidates have put forward plans to make college free — for at least some students at some universities. The most radical plans come from Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Both want to cancel tuition for all students at public two- and four-year colleges and universities and to retain Pell Grants to cover books and living costs for poor students.
Sanders specifically includes tribal colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeships in his free college proposal; Warren doesn’t mention them. Both would increase funding for private historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs), with the goal of eliminating tuition at these institutions as well. In short, everyone besides students at non-HBCU/MSI private institutions would pay no tuition.