The most specific plan for debt-free college so far comes from Demos, a progressive think tank. It defines a "debt-free" degree as a degree students could pay for by working 10 hours per week at minimum wage while enrolled in college. That means students' cost of attendance not covered by grants and scholarships, including books, tuition, and living expenses, couldn't exceed about $2,500 per year.
Demos calls for the federal government to help states shoulder the cost of higher education. States that commit to offering a debt-free degree for low- and middle-income students — families making up to about $60,000 per year — would have 60 percent of the cost covered by the federal government. States could get bonus matching funds by increasing spending per student over current levels.
Demos estimates the plan would cost about $29 billion per year and affect 60 percent of students at public universities.