Capitol Alert

Family earn less than $140K? Kamala Harris says you should go to college free

Kamala Harris, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, campaigns on Jan. 10, 2016 at the Building Constructions Trades Council in Los Angeles.
Kamala Harris, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, campaigns on Jan. 10, 2016 at the Building Constructions Trades Council in Los Angeles. TNS

Kamala Harris, in the final weeks of her U.S. Senate campaign against fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez, released a higher education plan Tuesday calling for making public colleges and universities free for students whose families earn less than $140,000 a year.

She also wants to allow borrowers to discharge student loans in bankruptcy.

Harris announced the benchmarks ahead of a roundtable discussion with students at Los Angeles Trade Tech College. She joins other Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, in pledging to eliminate public university tuition. Clinton’s plan would by 2021 offer free public university tuition to families making less than $125,000 a year.

Harris’ plan, which builds on her efforts in taking on for-profit colleges, comes a week after she took criticism from Sanchez for accepting campaign contributions from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2011 and 2013, and then not bringing charges against Trump University, a for-profit program mostly shuttered in 2011.

Harris returned fire by tearing into Sanchez for standing with for-profit colleges years ago in their efforts to rebuff stricter federal regulations.

Her plan calls for prohibiting for-profit colleges from purchasing accreditation. Harris would push for a federal Student Loan Borrowers’ Bill of Rights, including loan counseling for students before they take on debt, and banning unfair student contracts. Harris also wants to open eligibility to tens of thousands of unauthorized high school graduates for tuition and federal financial aid like Pell Grants and low-interest loans.

In June, Sanchez issued her five-point higher education plan that includes lowering community college fees to $5 per unit from $46 and offering 4-year degree programs on the campuses, as well as year-round Pell Grants. Sanchez wants to expand college access to members of the armed services and create opportunities for refinancing debt that mirror home and car loan refinancing.

California Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris, speaking to California delegates in Philadelphia on Tuesday, July 27, 2016, said that the Democratic National Convention is about reaffirming commitment.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

  Comments