Hillary Clinton is changing her college-affordability plan in an effort to reach Bernie Sanders supporters, proposing the elimination of public in-state tuition for students whose families make less than $125,000, an aide said.
Clinton’s move toward Sanders’ proposal—tuition-free college at public institutions—comes as she seeks to consolidate the Vermont senator’s backers in her campaign for the White House against Republican Donald Trump.
Clinton would also impose a three-month moratorium on federal student loan payments and endorse reinstating year-round access to Pell Grants, said the aide, who asked not to be named ahead of a formal announcement.
Her proposals follow a meeting with Sanders last month in Washington, where the aide said they discussed how to prioritize college-affordability issues—a key interest of young voters—during the general election. Clinton had just secured the nomination, but Sanders had vowed to press on to the Democratic National Convention that starts July 25.
More recently, Sanders has said of his endorsing Clinton, “I hope it happens. As of this moment, we’re not quite there yet.” A spokesman for Sanders, who is meeting with House Democrats on Wednesday, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Throughout the Democratic primary campaign, Sanders advocated eliminating tuition at public colleges and universities, something he said could be done at a cost of $75 billion annually, funded by a new Wall Street speculation tax.
Clinton said the plan was unworkable and that it didn’t make sense for tax dollars to go toward the tuition of students who can afford to pay, often citing Trump’s children and grandchildren as examples.
Her compromise, billed by her campaign as incorporating “a key principle” from Sanders’ plan, would eliminate in-state tuition for students for whose families earn less than $125,000. It would be phased in over the course of four years, starting with families that earn up to $85,000 and raising the income threshold by $10,000 a year until 2021.
If elected, Clinton would implement a three-month moratorium on federal student loan payments. The Education Department would use that time to help borrowers learn how to consolidate their loans, sign up for income-based repayment plans, and find ways to reduce their interest payments and fees, the aide said.
Clinton would also use the period as an opportunity to crack down on for-profit colleges and loan servicers, the aide said.