Post Secondary Education

Q46: Do you support increasing federal funding to support Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), including increasing student financial aid,
research and financing to support critical infrastructure upgrades?

Biden: Yes. I will take steps to rectify the funding disparities faced by HBCUs, TCUs, and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) so that the United States can benefit from their unique strengths. Students at HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs will benefit from my proposals to double Pell grants, slash the income-based repayment of loans to 5% of income, and provide free tuition for students at all community colleges, including those that are MSIs (see below). In addition, I will invest over $70 billion in these colleges and universities to:

  • Make HBCUs, TCUs, and under-resourced MSIs more affordable for their students.
  • Invest in the diverse talent at HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs to solve the country’s most pressing problems. I will create at least 200 new centers of excellence that serve as research incubators and connect students underrepresented in fields critical to our nation’s future – including fields tackling climate change, globalization, inequality, health disparities, and cancer – to learning and career opportunities.
  • Invest in infrastructure for HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs to build the physical research facilities and labs urgently needed to deliver on the country’s research and development, to update and modernize deteriorating facilities, including by strengthening the Historic  Preservation program, and to create new space for increasing enrollments, especially at HSIs. Additionally, as president, I will ensure all HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs have access to low-cost federal capital financing programs and new investments in rural broadband infrastructure.
  • Invest in programs that increase enrollment, retention, completion, and employment rates.
  • Expand career pathways for graduates of HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs in areas that meet national priorities, including building a diverse pipeline of public school teachers.
  • Triple and make permanent the capacity-building and student support for HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs in Title III and Title V of the Higher Education Act.
  • Require federal agencies and states to publish reports of their allocation of federal funding to colleges and universities. When inequities exist between HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs and similar non-HBCU, TCU, MSI colleges, federal agencies and states will be required to publish robust rationale and show improvements in eliminating disparities year over year.

You can view full details of my plan to increase support and funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges And Universities (TCUs), Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American And Native American Pacific Islander-serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), Alaska Native-serving Institutions and Native Hawaiian-serving Institutions (ANNHs), Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), and Native American-serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTIs) HERE.

Bloomberg: Yes. Mike is committed to helping HBCUs build on these strengths and establish long-term financial stability. He recognizes that investments in HBCUs yield benefits not just to institutions and their students, but to communities across the country and the economy as a whole. At a time when the U.S. faces worker shortages in fields like teaching, health care, computing and data science, the role of HBCUs in training a 21st century workforce is more critical than ever.

He will triple direct federal Title III funding to HBCUs, create a new infrastructure grant program to help build and modernize HBCU facilities, and create a dedicated office in the executive branch to help HBCUs access additional research funding. As part of his Maternal Health plan, Mike will boost funding for medical schools at historically black colleges and universities to increase the number of people of color in the health-care workforce.

Buttigeig: Yes. I will invest $50 billion in HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs over the next decade, with $20 billion of that additional funding through mandatory spending under Titles III and V to guarantee continued support to these colleges. More funding for these invaluable institutions will ensure that HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs continue to serve as launching pads for millions of students of color.

De La Fuente: Yes, the discriminatory policies of the past will end under my watch. We must make up for a failed discriminatory educational process that included red-lined school districts and unfair lending to minority families. We can help repay what was taken by re-investing in funding for HBCUs.

Sanders: Yes. Historically Black Colleges and Universities have educated generations of African American leaders, and helped build and grow the culture of diversity that makes our country what it is today. Unfortunately, too many HBCUss have struggled financially in recent years from a lack of federal resources, a drop in enrollment, and from crushing institutional debt. Yet the need for HBCUs and the education they provide has never been greater. Bernie is proud to have released a comprehensive plan to provide the federal support HBCUs need to grow enrollment and expand their programs.

HBCUs serve an integral role in African American education. While the 101 HBCUs across America represent just three percent of the nation’s colleges and universities, they graduate nearly 20 percent of African Americans who earn undergraduate degrees. As president, Sanders will make a resolute commitment from the federal government to ensure HBCUs and MSIs are fully supported. This will help these institutions better fulfill their irreplaceable, unique roles in communities across America.

His plan will:

  • Make all public and private HBCUs, tribal colleges, and many MSIs tuition free
  • Invest $5 billion in HBCU infrastructure grants and cancel all institutional HBCU loan debt from the Capital Financing Program
  • Double Title III and Title V funds to decrease the funding gap between HBCUs and MSIs and predominantly white institutions
  • Issue an Executive Order that strengthens the White House Initiative on HBCUs to eliminate racial disparities in our college education system
  • Invest $10 billion to create and expand HBCU medical, dental, and teacher training graduate programs
  • Provide $1 billion for HBCU 1890 Land-Grant Institutions Programs, which provide grants, scholarships, and support for research, extension, and teaching programs at HBCUs for food and agricultural sciences
  • Ensure every HBCU can establish and maintain TRIO and GEAR UP programs by doubling funding for the programs
  • Triple funding for the Work-Study Program; expand Pell Grants uses to cover non-tuition costs of school, including: housing, books, supplies, transportation, and other costs of living; and more.

Steyer: Yes. My HBCU 2030 Plan will:

Invest an unprecedented $125 billion in federal resources to HBCUs. The money will be distributed over the course of ten years, starting with $35 billion in the first year to address immediate infrastructure needs. My plan then allocates $10 billion dollars every year after that to be used for educators and administrators, technology, infrastructure, student services, and other activities. It would also provide technical assistance and support to build infrastructure to help schools build their endowments and exploration of diverse revenue streams so that HBCUs aren’t reliant on tuition revenue alone.

Create an HBCU Board of Regents. Within 180 days, the White House Initiative on HBCUs will develop a stronger HBCU governing structure that allows for more independent decision-making without putting federal assistance at risk. It will administer a new HBCU Board of Regents, which will coordinate state and federal resources, programming, and ensure fiscal accountability. It will work with businesses and nonprofits to further research, endowment support, and student services and facilitation of partnerships between industry and academia.

Establish HBCU Centers of Innovation. HBCUs train the next generation of academics, entrepreneurs, and innovators. My administration will establish or build on existing HBCU Centers of Innovation to train a workforce in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields as well as healthcare, business, civic engagement, criminal justice, environmental protection, and social justice.

Foster Strategic Partnerships. HBCUs ​generate​ $14.8 billion in economic activity and support ​134,000​ jobs within their regional communities–most of which are off-campus. My administration will assist schools in forging relationships and formal partnerships with federal, state and local governments and agencies, the private sector, and nonprofits to help address the economic, environmental, and social needs in the communities where they are located. When we empower our young people, their prosperity will build communities — now and for the future.

Warren: Yes. My plan for universal free public college creates a fund for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). The fund will have a minimum of $50 billion, but the Secretary of Education will have the authority to increase the amount of money in the fund as needed to ensure that spending per-student at those schools is comparable to colleges in the area. Private HBCUs and MSIs would also be able to opt into the federal free-tuition program available to public colleges.

Q47: Do you have a plan to expand college access for low-income students?

Biden: Yes. As president, I will enact legislation to ensure that every hard-working individual, including those attending school part-time and DREAMers (young adults who came to U.S. as children), can go to community college for up to two years without having to pay tuition. Individuals will also be able to use these funds to pursue training programs that have a track record of participants completing their programs and securing good jobs.

My community college initiative will be a first-dollar program, meaning that students will be able to use their Pell grants, state aid, and other aid to help them cover expenses beyond tuition and fees. In addition, the Biden plan will give states financial incentives to foster collaboration between community colleges and community-based organizations to provide wraparound support services for students, especially veterans, single parents, low-income students, students of color, and students with disabilities who may face unique challenges.

Additionally, I will target additional financial support to low-income and middle-class individuals by doubling the maximum value of Pell grants, significantly increasing the number of middle-class Americans who can participate in the program. View details of my plan to expand college access and strengthen college as a reliable pathway to the middle class HERE.

Bloomberg: Yes. Mike’s higher education plan makes substantial investments in college affordability and completion. He will enable students to pay for their education without taking on unaffordable debt while giving them the skills needed for in-demand jobs. His plan will double the maximum Pell Grant to $12,690 and provide bonus funds for institutions, including HBCUs, that enroll high numbers of Pell-eligible students. He will also simplify the FAFSA, inform families of Pell eligibility through the income-tax filing process, and expand funding for proven advising programs that help low-income students navigate the college admissions and financial-aid application process.

Buttigeig: Yes. While higher education remains a clear pathway for much of the middle class, for too many–particularly for students of color and low-income students–those paths are littered with hurdles. We must make public college truly debt-free for lower-income families. We will do this through a state-federal partnership that makes public tuition affordable for all and completely free at lower incomes–combined with a large increase in Pell Grants that provides for basic living expenses and keeps up with inflation. Middle-income families at public colleges will pay zero tuition.

De La Fuente: Yes. Absolutely – student debt and loans should be forgiven and wiped out. College should be free. It will be paid for by re- allocating money from wasteful spending on wasteful government programs.

Sanders: Yes. Bernie strongly believes we must extend the concept of public education beyond the 12th grade and make public colleges, universities, and trade schools tuition and fee-free. Every young person, regardless of the income of their family, immigration status, or incarceration history, should receive the best education possible, and this includes providing equitable educational resources to prepare students for success.

Bernie will guarantee tuition- and fee-free public colleges, universities, HBCUs, and trade-schools to all, regardless of family income or immigration status, to ensure all students have access to continue their education without fear of insurmountable loan debt.

Unbelievably, 45 percent of college students report struggling with hunger, 56 percent report struggling with the cost of housing, and 17 percent say they experienced homelessness. In the richest country in the history of the world, students should not have to starve in order to get an education.

Low-income students who receive Pell Grants graduate with an average of $31,000 in student loan debt – $4,500 more than their peers who did not receive Pell Grants. To ensure college is debt-free for low-income students, Bernie will:

  • Provide Pell Grants to low-income students to cover the non-tuition and fee costs of school, including: housing, books, supplies, transportation, and other costs of living.
  • Require participating states and tribes to cover the full cost of obtaining a degree for low-income students (normally those with a family income of less than $25,000) by covering any gap that may still exist after we eliminate tuition, fees, and grants.
  • Place a cap on student loan interest rates going forward. The federal government shouldn’t make billions of dollars in profit off of student loans while students are drowning in debt. We should invest in young Americans – not leverage their futures. Today, the average interest rate on undergraduate student loans is more than 5 percent. Under this proposal, we will cap student loan interest rates at 1.88 percent.
  • In addition to eliminating tuition and fees, we will match any additional spending from states and tribes which reduces the cost of attending school at a dollar for dollar rate. This funding goes beyond closing the cost gap – participating states and tribes could use this money to hire additional faculty, ensure professors get professional development opportunities, and increase students’ access to educational opportunities.
  • Triple funding for the Work-Study Program. By tripling funding for this program, we can build valuable career experiences for students that will help them after they graduate.Today, this program provides about $1,760 per year to some 700,000 students. When we are in the White House, we will expand the program to reach at least 2.1 million students – a 1.4 million student increase. And we will ensure that funding targets schools that have large low-income student enrollment.

Steyer: Yes. The right to learn is a fundamental right to all Americans — and that includes access to affordable, high-quality college. I support two years of free community college or trade school. I will make sure every student who wants to go to college has the support they need with the college application and financial aid process. My administration will provide low- and middle-income students with access to free or low-cost SAT and ACT prep courses, assistance filling out financial aid forms, and career counselors who can advise on school selection and the application process.

Warren: Yes. I have a plan to give every American the opportunity to attend a two-year or four-year public college or technical school without paying a dime in tuition or fees. My plan also makes free college truly universal – not just in theory, but in practice – by investing an additional $100 billion in Pell Grants, making higher education of all kinds more inclusive and available to every single American. This expanded investment in Pell Grants would increase funding available for non-tuition expenses, allowing students to graduate from college debt free. You can read my full plan for Affordable Higher Education for All here: education

Q48: Do you support federal funding for career technical schools, apprenticeship and training for workers displaced by technology?

Biden: Yes. In 2014, President Obama asked me to develop a national strategy for reforming our nation’s workforce training programs designed to prepare “ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.” Building on the successful models championed through that initiative, I will make an investment of $50 billion in high-quality training programs. These funds will create and support partnerships between community colleges, businesses, unions, state, local, and tribal governments, universities, and high schools to identify in-demand knowledge and skills in a community and develop or modernize training programs – which could be as short as a few months or as long as two years – that lead to a relevant, high-demand industry-recognized credential. These funds will also exponentially increase the number of apprenticeships in this country through strengthening the Registered Apprenticeship Program and partnering with unions who oversee some of the best apprenticeship programs throughout our nation, not watering down the quality of the apprenticeship system like President Trump is proposing. View details of my plan to invest in workforce training, including community-college business partnerships and apprenticeships, HERE.

Bloomberg: Yes. Mike will create the jobs of the future in communities today. He will invest billions in research, education and infrastructure to bring good jobs to communities that need them most by launching a major public research and development investment to create industries of the future in areas such as agriculture, manufacturing and medicine; reviving rural areas by streamlining federal assistance and connecting them to economic growth centers – for example, by providing broadband access; create a place-based Earned Income Tax Credit to reward employers for locating and hiring in distressed communities. Mike will make education and training a national priority by making the education and upskilling of Americans the Vice President’s #1 priority; investing in community colleges and apprentice programs, with the goal of boosting apprenticeship starts to 1 million a year by 2030 ; upgrading career-training systems and programs in every state with a focus on marketable skills, employer-partnerships, and transitioning adult workers; streamlining the government’s 43 employment and training programs, pooling their resources and focusing funding on those that deliver the best results for people; helping more people afford training – for example, by allowing them to access extended benefits through unemployment insurance; and expanding and improving the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, widening eligibility to cover workers affected by changes such as automation and the transition to a green economy.

Buttigeig: Yes. All students—including low-income students and students of color—should be able to pursue the education they want, affordably. For some, that may mean workforce development or apprenticeship programs; for others, it will mean certificates and credentials. In either case, my higher education and workforce development plan ( includes strong support for public vocational and community colleges, with strict standards to ensure that for-profit providers that don’t deliver on their promises to train students for well-paying careers face consequences.

De La Fuente: Yes.

Sanders: Yes. Bernie will tell corporate America that artificial intelligence and robotics are not going to be used just to throw workers out on the street. This exploding technology must serve human needs, not just corporate profits. As President, he will require firms to convey shares to workers who are laid off due to offshoring or automation.

His Corporate Accountability and Democracy plan would mandate that corporations with more than $100 million in revenue appoint workers to 45 percent of their board seats and issue 20 percent of the corporation’s stock to a worker-controlled fund. When workers have an ownership stake in their company and a say in the decisions that are made, they will not automate their own jobs to increase profits. When workers have more say in their workplace, they will be better able to balance increased productivity and work-saving technology and the interests of the workers that may be replaced.

But whether it is coal miners transitioning to jobs in a clean energy economy, or retail workers displaced by corporate greed and automation, he will protect workers and the communities in which they live. We will create a sustainable future for all and good-paying, union jobs right here in America. We will ensure workers in transition have the opportunities, benefits, and supports they need to thrive. Job guarantees, job training, housing, pensions, health care, and more. No one will be left behind.

We will pass a federal jobs guarantee to ensure that those who work in industries likely to see major impacts of automation or innovation are able to work elsewhere. He will make public colleges, universities, and trade schools tuition free to ensure all are able to get a higher education if they choose to pursue it.

His Green New Deal will create 20 million jobs needed to save the planet. We will address the shortage of teachers and caregivers in this country. There is plenty of work to be done. We will ensure that work is done and that people are paid well and trained to do it.

Steyer: Yes. We need to make sure our workers are able to upgrade their skills to take advantage of new opportunities in our rapidly shifting economy. As part of my Climate Justice plan, I will invest in workforce development programs to expand local, good job opportunities in the energy, construction, transportation, agriculture, water, and information technology sectors, amongst others. I also will expand federal funding for career and technical education, and apprenticeship programs more generally.

Warren : Yes. All students, regardless of their means or background, should have access to career training that provides a path to a good-paying job and middle-class lifestyle. My universal free public college plan includes public two-year colleges, which help supplement trade and apprenticeship programs. But we need to further expand access so that people can find good-paying jobs without needing a college degree. I will increase the amount we invest tenfold to make a $20 billion commitment to apprenticeship programs for the next ten years. Additionally, my plan to increase Social Security benefits lets workers elect to exclude up to three years of training or apprenticeship from their lifetime earnings calculation for Social Security benefits, increasing their benefits.

Q49: Do you have a plan to reduce student loan debt?

Biden: Yes. In addition to my plan to make two years of community college debt-free and to double the maximum value of Pell grants, my plan will more than halve payments on undergraduate federal student loans by simplifying and increasing the generosity of today’s income-based repayment program. Individuals making $25,000 or less per year will not owe any payments on their undergraduate federal student loans and also won’t accrue any interest on those loans.

Everyone else will pay 5% of their discretionary income (income minus taxes and essential spending like housing and food) over $25,000 toward their loans. This plan will save millions of Americans thousands of dollars a year. After 20 years, the remainder of the loans for people who have responsibly made payments through the program will be 100% forgiven. Individuals with new and existing loans will all be automatically enrolled in the income-based repayment program, with the opportunity to opt out if they wish. In addition to relieving some of the burden of student debt, this will enable graduates to pursue careers in public service and other fields without high levels of compensation. I will also change the tax code so that debt forgiven through the income-based repayment plan won’t be taxed. Americans shouldn’t have to take out a loan to pay their taxes when they finally are free from their student loans.

Additionally, I will create a new, simple program which offers $10,000 of undergraduate or graduate student debt relief for every year of national or community service, up to five years. Individuals working in schools, government, and other non-profit settings will be automatically enrolled in this forgiveness program; up to five years of prior national or community service will also qualify. Additionally, I will fix the existing Public Service Loan Forgiveness program by securing passage of the What You Can Do For Your Country Act of 2019. I will ensure adjunct professors are eligible for this loan forgiveness, depending on the amount of time devoted to teaching.

View details of my plan to reduce student loan debt HERE.

Bloomberg: Yes. As president, Mike will reform the federal student loan system so no one pays more than they can afford. Mike’s plan will enroll new and existing undergraduate student-loan borrowers automatically in income-driven repayment (IDR) programs, with repayment capped at 5% of discretionary income, down from the current 10%. Borrowers will be able to choose to repay through the paycheck withholding system used to collect payroll and income taxes. Borrowers could still opt out and enroll in another federal program. Outstanding balances will be forgiven tax free after 20 years if borrowers make reasonable progress on paying back their loans.

Buttigeig: Yes. My administration will provide student loan forgiveness to teachers and other public servants, rewarding those borrowers for the sacrifices they have made for their communities. More broadly, we need to ensure that student debt is affordable. This includes guaranteeing that borrowers whose loans are cancelled through income-based repayment aren’t taxed on the amount forgiven. I will also cancel the debts of borrowers in low-quality, overwhelmingly for-profit programs, beginning with those that failed federal “gainful employment” rules that ensure students receive an adequate return on their investments. I do not, however, support middle class and low-income families subsidizing the higher education costs of the students of millionaires and billionaires.

De La Fuente: Yes. Eliminate it. The government will repay. Under my administration, a college education will be free.

Sanders: Yes. Black students take out loans at a higher rate to pay for school, graduate with more student debt than white counterparts and, because of income disparities, take longer to pay it off while paying more interest. Bernie will cancel all student loan debt for the some 45 million Americans, who owe $1.6 trillion. By cancelling all student debt, would cut the racial wealth gap — something Bernie believes our country is morally bound to do — for young African Americans by more than half, from 12:1 to 5:1.

And by canceling all student debt, we will save the average student loan borrower around $3,000 a year in student loan payments. That money will be freed up to spend on everything from housing to starting a business, boosting the economy by $1 trillion over the next ten years, and creating up to 1.5 million new jobs every year. His plan will also place a cap on student loan interest rates going forward. Under this proposal, we will cap student loan interest rates at 1.88 percent.

Steyer: Yes. Under my education plan, I would allow students to refinance their loans and would offer two years of free community college for anyone that wants to attend. I would also offer student loan forgiveness for those who choose to go into a public service professions, including teachers and emergency first responders.

Young people can’t start a family, a business or buy a home with student debt crushing them. We must help lessen the burden of this debt by allowing these individuals to refinance their student loans at a lower and more affordable rate.

Warren: Yes. I have a plan to clear the debt that’s holding down an entire generation of Americans — and that disproportionately affects Black Americans. Across all colleges, Black students were on average nearly 20 percentage points more likely to need federal student loans, and Black students who finished a bachelor’s degree on average owed more than their original student loan balance after 12 years. My student debt cancellation plan will cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for 95% of Americans who carry it. This would substantially increase wealth for Black families — in fact, it would close the Black-white wealth gap among people with student loan debt by 25%. You can read my full plan for Affordable Higher Education for All here: education You can read my plan to cancel student loan debt on day one of my presidency here: one.

Q50: Under current law, student loans can’t be claimed in a bankruptcy except in certain very narrow circumstances. Will you propose and support legislation and regulations to give families relief by making it easier to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy?

Biden: Yes. In 2015, the Obama-Biden Administration called for Congress to pass a law permitting the discharge of private student loans in bankruptcy. As president, I will enact this legislation. In addition, my administration will empower the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – established during the Obama-Biden Administration – to take action against private lenders who are misleading students about their options and do not provide an affordable payment plan when individuals are experiencing acute periods of financial hardship.

Bloomberg: Yes.

Buttigeig: Yes. I will restore bankruptcy protections on student loans. But we can’t stop there; millions of other borrowers also struggle to repay their loans. My plan will limit marketing from student loan servicers, make credit reporting on student loans fair and transparent, and update protections on borrowers’ other federal benefits like Social Security income from debt collection, as well as end wage garnishment and other collections for low-income borrowers in default.

De La Fuente: Yes. The debt will be eliminated.

Sanders: Yes. Bernie opposed the 2005 bankruptcy law that made it illegal to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. It is not enough to allow student loans to be claimed in bankruptcy. If Wall Street can be bailed out for several trillion dollars, 45 million Americans can and will be bailed out of the $1.6 trillion burden of student loan debt and we can provide free college for all.

Steyer: Yes. I support creating a Student Borrower Bill of Rights that would crack down on predatory student loan servicers and guarantee basic protections for all student loan borrowers. The Student Borrower Bill of Rights would make it easier for borrowers to discharge their debt in bankruptcy, as is already the case with credit card debt.

Warren: Yes. I have a plan to repeal the harmful provisions in the 2005 bankruptcy bill and overhaul consumer bankruptcy rules in this country to give Americans a better chance of getting back on their feet. My bankruptcy reform plan ends the absurd special treatment of student loans in bankruptcy and makes them dischargeable just like other consumer debts. And until Congress acts, I will direct my administration to stop standing in the way by opposing borrowers’ bankruptcy petitions, and to instead push for a less strict interpretation of undue hardship. You can read my plan to cancel student loan debt on day one of my presidency here: one You can read my plan to fix our bankruptcy system to give people a second chance here: