Mayor Pete: 'We've Got to Make It More Affordable to Not Go to College in This Country'

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg participates in the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Mayor Pete Buttigieg said he supports expanding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, arguing that it’s “almost impossible to take advantage of” in its current form.


“You can’t miss a payment for 10 years. It only qualifies on certain kinds of loans and it’s really difficult to line up all the pieces to apply,” Buttigieg said at a recent “Bully Pulpit Series” interview at the College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C. “If we made it more generous, I think we would help more people do away with their college debt and inspire more people to do things, not only traditional public service, but stuff like becoming a health care provider in rural areas that lack health care or getting involved in teaching.”

Buttigieg said his college affordability plan includes working with states to make college tuition-free for students from low- and middle-income families and making Pell Grants “more generous” by allowing students to use them to cover living expenses.

“You’re not really free if you are under this crushing load of debt just as a consequence for doing what society told you to do, which is go to college and get all these skills,” Buttigieg said. “We propose eliminating the debt of students who have been eligible for Pell Grants when they start businesses that employ people within a few years after leaving college.”


During a campaign rally in Alexandria, Va., in June, Buttigieg said the U.S. government should also work to “make it more affordable to not go to college in this country and that will never happen if we don’t have stronger organized labor, which is something I think we need to do.”


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