On Monday, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julián Castro, released a comprehensive plan to restructure the education system in the country.
Castro, who has served as San Antonio’s mayor and is eyeing the Democratic presidential nomination, proposed universal pre-Kindergarten, a $150 billion dollar investment to modernize high schools, and raises for teachers.
For college students, the plan promises to eliminate tuition at public colleges, universities, community colleges, and technical and vocational schools.
The proposal calls to alleviate burdens of existing student loan debt by restricting monthly loan payments to $0 until a borrower is earning at least 250 percent of the federal poverty line, expanding the Pell Grant program to a maximum grant of $10,000, creating a new program of targeted loan forgiveness and reform, and improving the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
Castro’s plan also includes an investment of $3 billion per year to provide financial support and increase access for low-income students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions, in addition to ending public support for private, for-profit colleges. Castro wants to ensure increased transparency and accountability in higher education as well.
“Structural flaws, growing financial burdens, and inadequate support for students and families have prevented many from accessing quality education, from childhood to post-secondary school,” Castro said in a statement.
“We need a new commitment and a new approach that puts people first—one that sees the federal role in education as supporting a seamless continuum that begins before elementary school and continues after high school.”
The plan also includes bridging the teacher pay gap, supporting unionization, combating teacher shortages with a national teacher residency initiative and incentivizing teaching in the highest-need communities.
A recent poll of 1,052 college students, conducted by College Reaction, found that only 0.47 percent of respondents supported Castro as their preferred candidate for the presidency, while 18.9 percent of respondents supported Joe Biden, 15.1 percent preferred Bernie Sanders and 14.7 percent preferred Donald Trump.