BOSTON (CBS) – About 45 million Americans owe a staggering $1.6 trillion in student debt. More and more young people are graduating college looking ahead to decades of loan repayment. Student debt, and making college more affordable has become a central issue in the 2020 presidential campaign.

Here is a brief look at where each of the current presidential candidates stand:

Michael Bennet (D)
Senator from Colorado

  • Supports policies that make it easier for students to earn degrees
  • Agrees with the bipartisan solution to simplify the financial aid process
  • Wants the expansion of year-round Pell Grants to alleviate student debt

Joseph Biden, Jr. (D)
Former Vice President

Cory Booker (D)
New Jersey Senator

  • Co-sponsor of the 2018 Debt Free College Act
  • Supports simplifying the student loan process and refinancing college loans to make college affordable and accessible
  • “Baby Bonds” proposal is aimed to help eliminate student debt in the long run by providing children with money they could potentially use for college

Steve Bullock (D)
Gov. of Montana

  • In an interview he stated that the country needs to turn around and make college affordable
  • In May 2019 he signed HB 431, which created a student loan debt assistance program to aid young farmers and ranchers

Pete Buttigieg (D)
Mayor of South Bend, Indiana

  • Wants to make college free for lower income families
  • Proposal supports state-federal partnership that make public tuition affordable for all and free for lower income families
  • Will combine this with large increases in Pell Grants that provides for basic living expenses and keeps up with inflation

Julian Castro (D)
Former Housing Secretary

  • Wants to eliminate tuition at public universities and community colleges
  • Pitching for an end to public funding of for-profit colleges
  • Plan to allow borrowers to pay off their debt from an affordable percentage of their income
  • Believes loans can be forgiven and tax free after 20 years of repayment
  • Expand the Pell Grant program and create a loan forgiveness program

Bill de Blasio (D)
Mayor of New York City

  • As of now there is nothing proposed for student debt

John Delaney (D)
Former Maryland Congressman

  • Reduce the cost of student loans and provide more grants to help students from lower-income families
  • Introduced allowing borrowers to discharge public and private student loan debt in bankruptcy proceedings
  • Supports tuition free community college

Tulsi Gabbard (D)
Congresswoman from Hawaii

  • Co-sponsored House versions of Sander’s College for All Act
  • Wants to cut student loan interest rates for new borrowers in half and enable existing borrowers to refinance their loans

 Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
New York Senator

Kamala Harris
California Senator

  • Co-sponsor of 2018 Debt-Free College Act
  • Has spoken publicly on how she wants borrowers to refinance their federal student loans at lower interest rates
  • Supports free public college tuition for most Americans
  • Has sued for-profit colleges in the past

 John Hickenlooper (D)
Former Colorado Governor

  • Supports reallocating loan interest rates to make them as low as possible

Jay Inslee (D)
Gov. of Washington State

  • As governor, proposed Washington’s College Promise Grant, to provide financial aid for more than 93,000 students from his state

Amy Klobuchar (D)
Minnesota Senator

  • Supported College Cost Reduction Act that created a public service loan forgiveness and income based repayments
  • Supports the American Opportunity Tax Credit that allows student loan borrowers to deduct a decent amount of student loan interest on tax return
  • In support of expanding the Pell Grant
  • Plan includes letting current student loan borrowers gain eligibility to refinance their existing loans at lower rates of around 3%
  • Wants free tuition for community colleges

Wayne Messam (D)
Mayor of Miramar, FL

  • Wants to completely cancel all student debt
  • Plan would involve all loans that are U.S treasury-backed or private, and taken out for higher education
  • Believes repealing the Trump tax cuts can fund the plan
  • Wants the Department of Education to use the revenue stream to pay off debts, along with private lenders

Seth Moulton (D)
Massachusetts Congressman

  • Supports continued investments in Pell Grants, the TRIO program and other resources that are proven to lower the cost of college
  • Co-author of the America’s College Promise Act that offers two free years of community college for more than 9 million students

Beto O’Rourke (D)
Former Texas Congressman

  • Does not support tuition-free public colleges
  • Does support free community college
  • Wants to refinance more of the debt at lower rates and increase the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
  • Believes that interest rates for federal student loans and cost of college should be more affordable

Tim Ryan (D)
Ohio Congressman

  • Supports free community college tuition, and free public college tuition for those under specific incomes
  • Co-Sponsor of the College For All Act
  • Co-sponsor of the Debt-Free College Partnerships Act
  • Co-sponsor of the Aim Higher Act
  • All Acts aim to make college more affordable

Bernie Sanders (D)
Vermont Senator

  • Supports free and debt-free college
  • Debt free proposal includes eliminating tuition at public colleges and universities for people of specific household incomes
  • Wants to increase Pell Grants for low income
  • Plans to increase federal work study opportunities for students and reduce cap interest rates
  • Supports borrowers being able to refinance student loans at lower rates

Eric Swalwell (D)
California Congressman

  • Signed the Debt Free College Resolution that calls for students to be able to graduate from public colleges without debt
  • Leading legislation that allow student loan borrowers to refinance their loans at lower rates

Donald Trump (R)
President of the United States

  • Force colleges to limit tuition increases by limiting student loan borrowing
  • Simplify the student loan repayment process
  • Increased access to Pell grants over Summer and Winter breaks

Elizabeth Warren (D)
Massachusetts Senator

  • Co-sponsor of the 2018 Debt Free College Act
  • Supports free tuition for all at public colleges
  • Wants to cancel student loan debt for people with household incomes under $100,000
  • Believes student loan refinancing should be provided by the federal government and that public service loan forgiveness should expand to all federal student loans
  • Wants to ensure the federal government doesn’t profit from student loans
  • Believes that taxes on the wealthy could be used toward student loan debt relief, which is how she plans to fund her proposal

Bill Weld (R)
Former MA Governor

  • Allow for renegotiating of student debt
  • Increase focus on online education

Marianne Williamson (D)
Self Help Author

  • Supports free college tuition for qualified students
  • Open to exploring ways students can repay cost with small payroll tax once they work, or through public service
  • Is looking at student loan forgiveness options
  • Wants to reduce interest rates for repayment of loans

 Andrew Yang (D)
Former Tech Executive

  • Plans to implement a 10×10 student loan emancipation plan
  • This plan would provide student loan forgiveness for anyone who dedicates 10% of their salary for 10 years of repayment
  • Supports reducing inflated cost of colleges and wants to ensure the government can’t profit from student loan debt

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