Debt-free college means all students in America should be able graduate without debt. This big idea would expand economic opportunity, expand America's economy, and improve quality of life for millions of people. Debt-free college is a result that can be achieved through multiple means.
Below is a checklist that Demos and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee will use to judge any plan by presidential candidates or Congress.
A true debt-free college plan should affirmatively check all of these boxes:
- Do all undergraduate students have access to debt-free college?
- Does debt-free college apply to all undergraduate public institutions?
- Does debt-free college apply to all college costs, not just tuition?
- Does the “debt-free college” plan facilitate all students having equal access to high-quality public education -- i.e. incentivizing investment in instruction and student support services.
- Does the formula used to calculate "debt-free" avoid academic hardship for students and economic hardship for everyday families? (i.e. Low-income students are not forced to hurt their academic performance by working excessive hours while wealthier students study. Middle-class families are not assumed to have savings and disposable cash they do not truly have.)
- Is aid distributed progressively -- investing most in those who may not attend or complete college, or not maximize their participation in the economy after college, due to student debt?