Households that make less than $100,000 a year would get $50,000 in loan cancellation, with the amount of relief getting gradually smaller as income level goes up, with households that make more than $250,000 not eligible for any debt relief. In a Medium post, Warren wrote that the U.S.
"Once we've cleared out the debt that's holding down an entire generation of Americans, we must ensure that we never have another student debt crisis again", the senator suggested.
"Free college" has become a popular progressive rallying cry in recent years, with Sanders helping bring the idea mainstream during his 2016 presidential campaign. Depending on their income, 75 percent of student loan carriers would have their debts fully forgiven.
According to her proposal, 42 million of the 45 million Americans with student loans would have as much as $50,000 of their loans wiped clear.
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"College shouldn't just be a privilege for those who can afford to take on the significant expenses associated with higher education", she wrote.
Warren said the cost of the program would be covered by some of the $2.75 trillion in revenue that would be raised from the "wealth tax" she has proposed - a 2 percent tax on Americans with assets worth more than $50 million, with an additional 1 percent surcharge on wealth over $1 billion. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, has proposed the College for All Act, for instance, a cost-sharing program that would send $47 billion a year to states who agree to increase their higher-education funding.
"It covers more and it addresses both the access question of going to college and the problem of the debt burden for our students", she said. "She's targeting the most at-risk people with the $50,000 limit". But in expensive areas, household income isn't necessarily a useful way to gauge a family's ability to pay back student loans.
"It's not enough to make sure every American can graduate from a public college debt-free".
"Warren is recognizing that we will not be able to make tuition free without addressing past harm done by student debt", said Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher-education policy and sociology at Temple University. Warren's plan creates an incentive to get a degree that isn't needed for most high-demand career paths.
The high-dollar proposal will surely face push back from Republicans but also from some Democratic rivals. Sen.
Asked about connecting the viability of her new proposal to another, Warren insisted that there is broad support for the idea of taxing the ultra-rich.
The plan also calls for prohibiting public colleges from considering criminal history or citizenship status in admissions decisions and would create a fund specifically aimed at supporting historically black colleges and universities. Warren says it would be paid for by a new tax on multimillionaires, and at least partially offset by new economic growth.