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Hillary Clinton Proposes Tuition-Free College Modeled After Sanders' Plan

Clinton's proposal would make public colleges tuition-free for families making less than $125,000.

Posted on July 6, 2016, at 12:42 p.m. ET

J.d. Pooley / Getty Images

Hillary Clinton supports eliminating public college tuition for students whose families make less than $125,000 a year, she announced Wednesday, a move that would make four-year public colleges free for large swaths of the population.

It is a significant shift toward Bernie Sanders' higher education platform — the result, the Clinton campaign said, of a private meeting with Sanders.

While Sanders has called for eliminating tuition entirely at public universities, Clinton had previously advocated only "debt-free" college, which would have required students with more means to pay some money out of pocket at four-year public universities.

The call for tuition-free college is also a significant departure from previous Democratic Party platforms, which have looked to make college more affordable only by increasing financial aid and grants to low-income students.

In a move to further woo young voters, Clinton said she would call for a three-month "moratorium" on federal student loan payments — a time period she said would be used to move borrowers into plans that have them paying only a small slice of their incomes or paying at lower interest rates, and to rehabilitate the loans of those in default. The Obama administration has so far struggled to get some of the country's neediest borrowers into such programs.

Sanders and others from his campaign praised Clinton's college proposals on Twitter.

Twitter / Bernie Sanders / Via Twitter: @BernieSanders

Clinton had previously opposed to Sanders' free-college plan. "I disagree with free college for everybody," she said in November. "I don’t think taxpayers should be paying to send Donald Trump’s kids to college."

Clinton's plan would phase in tuition-free college over a period of five years, beginning with those making less than $85,000 a year and eliminating tuition for all families with incomes of less than $125,000 by 2021. The move to tie tuition-free college to family income echoes a precedent set by some of the country's most elite schools — like Stanford, which announced last year that it was waiving tuition for families making less than $125,000.

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