O'Malley joins debt-free college bandwagon

Plan pegs tuition to median income

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley proposed a strategy for creating options that allow students to earn a college degree—without going into debt.

Spotlight on affordability
Comparing proposals for free college

Under O'Malley's proposal, states would freeze tuition at public institutions and increase funding for higher education, which would be supplemented by matching federal grants.

Eventually, he argues, tuition in each state should be capped at 10% of the median income for four-year institutions and 5% of the median income for two-year institutions. O'Malley also says it should be easier for students to transfer credits and earn credits through online courses.

Once students graduate, their repayment terms would adapt to their starting income. Those who have already borrowed loans would be able to refinance for lower interest rates.

Student debt is a personal topic for O'Malley. Members of the candidate's staff say that he and his wife have taken out more than $339,200 in loans to pay for their two eldest children to attend college.

O'Malley outlined his plan Wednesday morning during a speech at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire (Wagner, "Post Politics," Washington Post, 7/8; Seitz-Wald, MSNBC, 7/8; Ronayne, AP/U.S. News & World Report

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