- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley unveiled a plan Wednesday that sets a five-year deadline to crate debt-free college, starting with a tuition freeze at public colleges and then prodding states to roll back costs.

“Right now, student loan debt is holding us back — student by student, family by family, and as a nation, we have to do better,” said Mr. O’Malley, who outlined his plan at a campaign event in Manchester, New Hampshire.

His proposals included allowing Americans to refinance current student debt at lower interest rates and then tie monthly loan payments to income levels; increase Pell Grants to cover non-tuition costs; expand work-study programs and increase the speed of graduation from four-year colleges.

The former Maryland governor offered the sweeping reforms as he struggles to for attention in a race dominated by front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Bernard Sanders, the Vermont independent and avowed socialist who has emerged as her chief rival.

Both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders have made debt-free college part of their platform, though Mrs. Clinton has not provided a detailed plan. Mr. Sanders has proposed a “Robin Hood tax” on Wall Street transactions to help pay for free college tuition.

Mr. O’Malley did not say how he would pay for his plan, but said that having the federal government pay for tuition would not lower costs.

“If you simply cut a check for tuition, you’re going to see tuitions go up and up and up and eventually we all foot that bill,” he said.

He said the he and his wife piled up more than $300,000 of debt paying for their daughters’ college educations.

“The student debt crisis is one I know from our own family. My wife and I took out big loans to support our daughters,” he said. “For us, this is what the American dream is all about — working hard and making sacrifices so our kids can pursue bigger opportunities and do better than we did.”

The O’Malley debt-free college plan is outlined here at the campaign website: https://martinomalley.com/policy/make-college-debt-free/

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