Student News

Kamala Harris on College Cost and Student Loan Debt

Take a look at the Democratic ticket's Vice Presidential nominee's higher education platform.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

August 28, 2020

Harris' announcement as the VP Pick for Biden. Photo by Adam Schultz/Biden for President via Flickr.
Kamala Harris on College Cost and Student Loan Debt
On August 19, Senator Kamala Harris made history when she accepted the nomination for Vice Presidential Candidate of the 2020 Democratic Party ticket. A daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, Harris is the first woman of color to be included on a major party’s Presidential ticket. According to joebiden.com, she graduated from Howard University, an HBCU (Historically Black College and University), and went on to attend law school at University of California, Hastings College of the Law. After graduation, she served as the Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County, California, and then went on to be elected as District Attorney of San Francisco. In 2010, she was the first black woman to be elected California Attorney General. In 2016, she was elected to the U.S. Senate, and in January of 2019, she launched her campaign to become President of the United States. Though the Kamala Harris campaign ended in December 2019, she went on to endorse Biden as the Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party in March 2020. Because of Harris’ Presidential campaign, voters were able to get a good look on where she stands on key issues, including higher education. Her platform will no doubt help to shape Biden’s – so it’s important to see where Senator Kamala Harris stands on issues like college costs and student loan debt.

Tackling College Cost

Senator Kamala Harris has supported free tuition at community colleges as well as debt-free college at public, four-year institutions. Debt-free college would not require a student to take on student loans in order to pay for college. Rather, a combination of federal, state and institutional aid would be available to help students cover the cost of college outside of what they could afford. Her record is proof of her support of this measure. In 2019, she backed the Debt-Free College Act. This legislation would award grants for state-federal partnerships in order to make college debt-free at in-state, public colleges; it would extend to historically black colleges and universities as well as minority-serving institutions. Finally, it would also provide grants for DREAMers. She also introduced her own legislation last year in an effort to curb college costs. The Basic Assistance for Students in College Act would provide $500 million in grants for colleges to identify and meet the basic needs of low-income students, from food and housing to transportation and health care.

Alleviating Student Loan Debt

While many Democratic Presidential candidates were in favor of eliminating student loan debt altogether, Harris was one of the candidates that supported fixing the existing system. Forbes reports that Harris has supported a $10,000 student loan forgiveness plan supported by many Democrats, including Joe Biden. In 2019, she co-sponsored the What You Can Do for Your Country Act, which would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965, with updated terms to improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

Biden and Harris: Working on Higher Education Together

At this point in the campaign, the two candidates have fleshed out their plan for higher education very specifically. It can be found at joebiden.com. It includes investing more in community colleges and improving student- success rates. The candidates also hope to hold colleges accountable to what they offer – a reliable educational pathway for the middle class with a goal to eliminate bad college-education investment decisions. Finally, Biden and Harris want to support unique colleges, like HBCUs and minority-serving institutions. In the weeks to come, we will hear more about how their plan stacks up against President Trump and Vice President Pence. As of now, President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will face off in three debates before Election Day on November 3. For more information on ways that you can cut college costs and reasonably pay back student loans, check out our Financial Aid Center. Finally, if you would like to create lasting change through activism and community involvement, consider these Amazing Political Internships.

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