Feb 2020

Bloomberg Higher Education Plan Sends Progressive Signal

Democratic presidential candidate aims to boost low-income college access, end legacy admissions.

In Democratic circles, higher education policy proposals in recent years have spanned the gamut from pandering and regressive to technocratic and progressive.

As he spends hundreds of millions to catapult his presidential bid, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled his own higher education proposals this week and firmly planted his flag in the technocratic and progressive camp.

In brief, Bloomberg called for an investment of $700 billion over 10 years in both public and private colleges to support low-income learners through a mix of an increase in Pell grants, greater state funding, and a move toward income-driven repayment plans. He also called for an end to legacy admissions. He would pay for the ideas through an increase in corporate taxes among other measures.

By focusing his free college policies on the lowest-income students, Bloomberg avoids the free-college-for-all regressive policies of some of his opposition. He further showed his progressive stripes by proposing to support low-income students not just with pricey college tuitions, but also by supporting their other needs like food and transportation, which are significant barriers for low-income students completing college. And taking aim at legacy admissions—no matter how unlikely to pass or how bare the details—should be good for an applause line on the stump.


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