The Democratic Alternative

July 25, 2018 | | Inside Higher Ed |

Just in time for midterm election season, Democrats in the House of Representatives on Tuesday released details of a comprehensive higher education bill they say will ensure every student has the chance to get a postsecondary education without debt. [...]

Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst at the think tank Demos, which is credited with helping to advance the movement for free college nationally, said the bill was a step in the right direction. But he said now is the time for Democrats to offer a much more bold vision of an endgame for higher education.

“Democrats should start with that vision in mind rather than a laundry list of small tweaks to the system,” he said. “You’re not in a moment where you’re haggling over appropriations or over a budget. The bill is supposed to lay out a vision of what the federal role in higher education should be.”

Student aid advocates have called for dramatically increasing the value of the Pell Grant to eventually cover 50 percent of the cost of attending a four-year public university. Aim Higher falls well short of that.

Huelsman noted that House Democrats had adopted the language of debt-free college.

“It sort of shows how the debate has shifted,” he said.