When you come from a family of educators like I do, you know how the power of learning opens new horizons and opportunities. As our world and our economy change, ongoing learning is increasingly necessary to succeed. That opportunity should be available to every American, whether they choose to go to college or not.
We will make college affordable for everyone. For as long as we can remember, a college degree has been a ticket to well-paying jobs and opportunities after college — and for many Americans, a pathway to the middle class. But today, rising tuition puts this dream out of reach — it’s costing families more than ever before.
The average college graduate starts their life with around $30,000 in debt. And that’s if they graduate. More than 40% of students don’t even make it to graduation. This plan will change that. We will make tuition free for 80% of American families, and subsidized for the next 10%. We’ll automatically enroll student borrowers in affordable, income-driven repayment plans if they fall behind, significantly invest in community colleges, and expand the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
We will make sure students can complete their degrees. The federal Pell Grant used to cover nearly 80% of the cost of attending college. Now, it covers just 29%. Students who can’t afford basic needs are dropping out with no degree and thousands of dollars in debt. Students of color are particularly vulnerable. That’s why our plan is to add $120 billion to the Pell Grant program and $50 billion dollars to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, TCUs, and MSIs over the next decade.
We will invest in workforce development for all Americans. As important as it is to make college affordable, it must also be possible for Americans who choose not to attend college to land a well-paying job and launch a career. We will invest $50 billion to expand the number of apprentices, particularly in nontraditional industry sectors like IT, health care, advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and education; double support for career and technical education, and scale local workforce development partnerships.
We need to make sure that workers have access to the skill development and education that will make them and our economy successful — and that they have the support they need to graduate. That’s my job, and that’s what this plan is going to do: